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.

A controversial interpretation

Survey of the royal tombs

The Great Restoration

The Cathedral over the centuries

A new Cathedral

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

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

The original design

The Chapel of St. Mary Magdalene

The chapel of san Castrense: an important renaissance work

The rediscovered chapel

The area of the Sanctuary

The beginning of the construction site

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

Worship services

Roger II’s strategic design

A Northern population

The towers facing the facade used as bell towers

A polysemy of high-level artistic forms and content

Palermo: the happiest city

A palimpsest of history

The balance between architecture and light

Gardens and architecture as a backdrop to the city of Palermo

The Virgin Hodegetria

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

Artistic elements in Peter’s ship

Beyond the harmony of proportions

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

The medieval city amidst monasticism and feudal aristocracy

The towers and the western facade

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

A cloister of accentuated stylistic variety

The stone bible

The Great Presbytery: a unique space for the cathedral

Two initially similar towers, varied over time

The side aisles

The lost chapel

The mosaics of the presbytery

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

From the Mosque to the Cathedral

A remarkable ceiling

The cemetery of kings

The Bible carved in stone

Cefalù: settlement evidence through time

Transformations over the centuries

A chapel by an unknown designer based on repeated symmetries

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

The chapel of St. Benedict

The Kings’ Cathedrals

Ecclesia munita

The chorus: beating heart of the cathedral

The decorated facade

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

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

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

Mosaic decoration

Porphyry sarcophagi: royalty and power

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

A tree full of life

Layers of different cultures decorate the external apses

The longest aisle

Under the crosses of the Bema

The Gualtiero Cathedral

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

The transformations of the hall through the centuries

A mixture of styles pervades the floor decorations

Roger II of hauteville: a sovereign protected by God

The Chapel of the Kings

A space between the visible and the invisible

Norman religious architecture with islamic influences in Sicily

The southern portico

Interior decorations

The construction of Monreale Cathedral: between myth and history

Squaring the circle

The mosaics of the apses

The chystro: a place between earth and sky

The liturgical spaces of the protesis and the diaconicon

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

Characteristics of religious architecture in the romanesque period

The senses tell Context 1

The cultural substrate through time

The king’s mark

The dialogue between the architectures of the monumental complex