Cefalù Cathedral
context 1

The medieval city amidst monasticism and feudal aristocracy

The climate of political, social and cultural renewal that had distinguished the reign of the Hauteville family was interrupted, at the end of the monarchy, by disagreements between Emperor Frederick of Swabia and the Church of Cefalù. This caused a slowdown in the urban and economic growth of the city. The monastic orders and the feudal aristocracy became the new protagonists; the first, represented by the Benedictine order and Franciscans settled in different areas of the urban fabric. The Benedictine monastery of St. Catherine rose inside the walls, almost level with the great plain, opposite the cathedral, while the choice of the Franciscans was oriented outside the southern walls, with the 1225 construction of St. Francis’ convent, near the road leading to the city.Shortly afterwards, towards the middle of the 13th century, Cefalù welcomed the ancient and influential noble family of Ventimiglia, who continued to be present in the Cefalù territory throughout the 14th century. The advent of the Ligurian aristocratic family undermined the role of the civitas episcopal and its power, to the point of wearing it down.
Deriving from the investment of conspicuous wealth from family properties in the neighbouring areas, the aforementioned undermining manifested itself through the building of their residence, the hospicium magnum , located in a strategic area of the via regia, between the cathedral floor and the main gate. The complex, represented by the side street, which coincides with the present-day Via Amendola, can be seen in a drawing dating back to the 16th century, discovered during recent restoration work. Its peculiarity, which distinguished it from the typical feudal residences with a compact urban structure, was in the different typology that distinguished its settlement model, made up of several interconnected buildings, according to an architectural tradition present in Liguria during the 13th century. Nevertheless, the Ventimiglia family did not alter the urban scheme derived from the Norman re-foundation, but created a dialogue between the architectural layout of their buildings and that of the latter. However, the domus magna building shifted the attention from what, until then, was considered to be the centerpiece of the urban fabric, the Cathedral.
A new feudal secular axis of the complex, erected by the powerful family, was added to the bishop’s epicentre and remained unchanged for a long time.

A cloister of accentuated stylistic variety

The Chapel of St. Mary Magdalene

A space between the visible and the invisible

The chapel of St. Benedict

The mosaics of the apses

Layers of different cultures decorate the external apses

The chorus: beating heart of the cathedral

The Cathedral over the centuries

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

Interior decorations

The stone bible

The medieval city amidst monasticism and feudal aristocracy

Beyond the harmony of proportions

The cemetery of kings

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

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

Mosaic decoration

Ecclesia munita

Artistic elements in Peter’s ship

Under the crosses of the Bema

Squaring the circle

The senses tell Context 1

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

The transformations of the hall through the centuries

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

A tree full of life

A new Cathedral

The rediscovered chapel

Porphyry sarcophagi: royalty and power

The longest aisle

The Virgin Hodegetria

Palermo: the happiest city

A mixture of styles pervades the floor decorations

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

The king’s mark

A remarkable ceiling

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

The mosaics of the presbytery

The Chapel of the Kings

The area of the Sanctuary

A controversial interpretation

Characteristics of religious architecture in the romanesque period

The Bible carved in stone

Norman religious architecture with islamic influences in Sicily

Gardens and architecture as a backdrop to the city of Palermo

The Great Restoration

The chystro: a place between earth and sky

The chapel of san Castrense: an important renaissance work

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

Roger II’s strategic design

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

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

Roger II of hauteville: a sovereign protected by God

Transformations over the centuries

The beginning of the construction site

Cefalù: settlement evidence through time

The liturgical spaces of the protesis and the diaconicon

The towers and the western facade

The construction of Monreale Cathedral: between myth and history

The towers facing the facade used as bell towers

The lost chapel

The southern portico

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

A palimpsest of history

Survey of the royal tombs

The Kings’ Cathedrals

The original design

The Great Presbytery: a unique space for the cathedral

The dialogue between the architectures of the monumental complex

The side aisles

The balance between architecture and light

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

A chapel by an unknown designer based on repeated symmetries

A polysemy of high-level artistic forms and content

A Northern population

The decorated facade

Two initially similar towers, varied over time

The Gualtiero Cathedral

Worship services

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

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

From the Mosque to the Cathedral

The cultural substrate through time