the church of Santa Maria dell'Ammiraglio
the external architecture and the original layout

The decorations on the bell tower

The bell tower of the Church of Santa Maria dell’Ammiraglio, designed to be in a symmetrical axis with the rest of the building, was undoubtedly already built in 1184 when the decoration was finished and the structure was completed with the construction of the narthex . Currently, the bell tower is one of the best preserved elements of the church, and is attributable to craftsmen from the East.
It is characterised by a rather schematic square layout and can be divided into four levels with different orders and decorations.

BELL TOWER
The Martorana bell tower, attributable to oriental craftsmen, has a square floor plan and is divided into four levels. It has complex and meticulous decoration in bi-chrome marquetry in a variety of forms: four-leaf clovers, interlacing, circles, rhombuses; mouldings with geometric decorations in two horizontal friezes and on the ashlars of the turrets arches and in the mullioned windows on the fourth floor; six-pointed star motifs in the frames of the mullioned windows on the third floor and eight-pointed motifs in the corners of the second level. The surfaces, decorated with starry polygons, are of Islamic origin and have a surface decorated with lava stone inlays. The decorative elements include 62 capitals, made by different craftsmen but all dating back to the Middle Ages: The small columns, especially in the upper parts, give a contrasting effect to the volume. The first level, approximately 7 metres high, is characterised by openings with ogival arches. In this first part, there are Corinthian order capitals with acanthus leaf decoration. This is followed by a more compact part with large mullioned windows and central columns. The mullioned windows are decorated and embellished with a frame with cushioned ashlars and polychrome inlays. The third order is cubic, with cylindrical turrets in the corners. In the centre, there are mullioned windows set within frames with side columns, which support the ogive arch, and a small decorative column in the centre. A frieze with a corbel frame and blind arches closes, like a crown. The last part of the bell tower, certainly today, is smaller than it was originally. This is because the crowning, which was probably a small dome, was demolished in 1726 following an earthquake. It has similar decorations on the third level, where rusticated ashlars alternate with flat ashlars in an interplay of shapes.

The bell tower has complex and meticulous decoration in bi-chrome marquetry in a variety of forms: four-leaf clovers, interlacing, circles, rhombuses; mouldings with geometric decorations in two horizontal friezes and on the ashlars of the turrets arches and in the mullioned windows on the fourth floor; six-pointed star motifs in the frames of the mullioned windows on the third floor and eight-pointed motifs in the corners of the second level. The surfaces, decorated with starry polygons, are of Islamic origin and have a surface decorated with lava stone inlays.The decorative elements include 62 capitals , made by different craftsmen but all dating from the Middle Ages: The small columns, especially in the upper parts, give a contrasting effect to the volume.The first level, approximately 7 metres high, is characterised by openings with ogival arches . In this first part, there are Corinthian order capitals with acanthus leaf decoration. This is followed by a more compact part with large mullioned windows and central columns. The mullioned windows are decorated and embellished with a rusticated , cushioned cornice and polychrome inlays. The third order is cubic, with cylindrical turrets in the corners. In the centre, there are mullioned windows set within frames with side columns, which support the ogive arch, and a small decorative column in the centre. A frieze with a corbel frame and blind arches closes, like a crown.

The last part of the bell tower has similar decorations on the third level, where rusticated ashlars alternate with flat ashlars in an interplay of shapes.
Compared to its original form, the structure is now smaller, as the crowning, which was probably a small dome, was demolished in 1726, after an earthquake.

The mosaics of the naves

The decorations on the bell tower

The interior of the church

The Cassaro

The architectural envelope: the Greek cross layout oriented towards the light

The architectural space

The senses tell the Zisa over the centuries

An architectural crescendo

The flooring: shapes, motifs and iconography

The opus sectile floor of the Palatine Chapel

The senses tell the historical context

The senses tell baroque decoration

The return of water

The senses tell the mosaic cycle

The senses tell the flooring

the roof of Paradise: one of the most representative works of medieval art

A building constructed in a short space of time

The senses tell the architecture and decorations

the Baroque exterior

the Baroque interior

The senses tell the architecture

The Admiral’s dedication

The Genoard Park, the garden of pleasures and wonders

The Royal Throne

Saint Peter’s Chapel in the Royal Palace

Different styles and transformations of “one of the most beautiful monuments in the world”

The senses tell the ceiling

Shapes and colours of the wooden ceiling

The senses tell the external architecture and the original layout

The senses tell restorations

The mosaic cycle, an ascending path towards the light

The birth of the Norman kingdom

The rediscovered palace

The senses tell the historical context

Decorations

From earthquake to collapse

The loca solatiorum: dwellings for recreation, well-being and hunting

The architectural appearance and transformations over time

Intertwining of knowledge in Norman Palermo

The Palace of Kings

From oblivion to the recovery of memory

The ancient convent of the Martorana, a history of devotion and tradition

The Norman conquest of Sicily and the birth of a new Latin kingdom

The beautiful Zisa and its garden: solacium regi among sounds, colours and scents

Gold and light: the splendour of the mosaics in the Royal Chapel

Restorations

The mosaics of the transept and the apses

The senses tell the historical context

The senses tell the interior