Palermo Cathedral
St. Mary Magdalene

The lost chapel

In 1130, Elvira , the wife of King Roger II , had a chapel dedicated to St Mary Magdalene built as a mausoleum for the royal family. Its construction came shortly after another chapel was built to the north on the opposite side, on 15 May 1129, at the behest of Roger II, dedicated to the Crowned Goddess. The Magdalene Chapel was built close to the Cathedral, on its southern front, corresponding to the presbytery area, “ in cornu epistolae “. We have information on this building because it is mentioned in the ancient chronicles and is clearly identified in the 1187 diploma, written by Archbishop Gualtiero as a petition to the King, requesting the use of the chapel following the transformation of the sacred temple. Palermo Cathedral had remained virtually unchanged in its layout since 1071, i.e. for almost 100 years, when the Normans entered the city and converted the great Gami Mosque , previously the city’s mother church during the Byzantine period, to a Christian place of worship. Over time, traces of this chapel were lost, and many documents that could provide evidence of its exact location were lost around the middle of the 19th century. This led to the belief that the chapel had been demolished during this construction work. Nor is there any evidence left of this in the book “De Principe Templo Panormitano” (1728), transcribed by priest Giovanni Maria Amato , when he quotes the text of the aforementioned diploma of Archbishop Gualtiero.

The Chapel of St. Mary Magdalene

The king’s mark

Norman religious architecture with islamic influences in Sicily

Squaring the circle

The marble portal: an intimate dialogue between complex ornamental aspects and formal structure

The dialogue between the architectures of the monumental complex

Biblical themes enlivened by the dazzling light of the stained – glass windows overlooking the naves

The balance between architecture and light

The decorated facade

A chapel by an unknown designer based on repeated symmetries

The longest aisle

The chapel of the crucifix: an artistic casket based on a previous model

The Great Restoration

Two initially similar towers, varied over time

The mosaics of the presbytery

Cefalù: settlement evidence through time

Transformations over the centuries

The Great Presbytery: a unique space for the cathedral

Palermo: the happiest city

From the Mosque to the Cathedral

Layers of different cultures decorate the external apses

A remarkable ceiling

The cultural substrate through time

Thirteenth-century iconography decorates the nave’s wooden ceiling, designed with new solutions

A controversial interpretation

The chystro: a place between earth and sky

Tempus fugit: a strategic project implemented in a short period of time

The Cathedral over the centuries

From the main gate to the aisles: an invitation to a journey of faith

Roger II of hauteville: a sovereign protected by God

The liturgical spaces of the protesis and the diaconicon

The southern portico

The Virgin Hodegetria

The side aisles

The towers and the western facade

Porphyry sarcophagi: royalty and power

Mosaic decoration

A tree full of life

The Bible carved in stone

The towers facing the facade used as bell towers

Artistic elements in Peter’s ship

Gardens and architecture as a backdrop to the city of Palermo

The chapel of St. Benedict

The architectural modifications ti the cathedral building after the death of Roger II and the transformations of the cloister

Worship services

Survey of the royal tombs

The Gualtiero Cathedral

The side Portico: a combination of elegance and lightness of form

Beyond the harmony of proportions

A compositional design that combines nordic examples with new artistic languages, over the centuries

The stone bible

The Cefalù cathedral: a construction yard undergoing a change between a surge of faith and control over the territory

The area of the Sanctuary

Roger II’s strategic design

Ecclesia munita

The columns of the nave: the meticulous study of the overall order

The Chapel of the Kings

The chorus: beating heart of the cathedral

A mixture of styles pervades the floor decorations

Under the crosses of the Bema

The Kings’ Cathedrals

A cloister of accentuated stylistic variety

The beginning of the construction site

The plasticism of the main portico and Bonanno Pisano’s Monumental Bronze Door

The cemetery of kings

A palimpsest of history

The lost chapel

A polysemy of high-level artistic forms and content

The chapel of san Castrense: an important renaissance work

A space between the visible and the invisible

The medieval city amidst monasticism and feudal aristocracy

The construction of Monreale Cathedral: between myth and history

The senses tell Context 1

A new Cathedral

The mosaics of the apses

The original design

Characteristics of religious architecture in the romanesque period

The paradisiacal “Conca d’oro” that embraces Palermo: a name with countless faces through time

The rediscovered chapel

Interior decorations

A Northern population

The links between the hauteville family and the monastic orders in Sicily

The transformations of the hall through the centuries