Cefalù Cathedral
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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.

Worship services

The rediscovered chapel

The stone bible

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

The southern portico

The towers facing the facade used as bell towers

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

A tree full of life

A remarkable ceiling

A palimpsest of history

The Bible carved in stone

Porphyry sarcophagi: royalty and power

From the Mosque to the Cathedral

Squaring the circle

A space between the visible and the invisible

A new Cathedral

A polysemy of high-level artistic forms and content

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

The longest aisle

Ecclesia munita

The balance between architecture and light

The chapel of St. Benedict

The medieval city amidst monasticism and feudal aristocracy

Norman religious architecture with islamic influences in Sicily

The cemetery of kings

The transformations of the hall through the centuries

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

The towers and the western facade

The chapel of san Castrense: an important renaissance work

Mosaic decoration

The cultural substrate through time

The mosaics of the apses

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

The decorated facade

Survey of the royal tombs

A mixture of styles pervades the floor decorations

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

The Gualtiero Cathedral

The chystro: a place between earth and sky

Roger II’s strategic design

The area of the Sanctuary

The mosaics of the presbytery

A cloister of accentuated stylistic variety

Cefalù: settlement evidence through time

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

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

Transformations over the centuries

Beyond the harmony of proportions

Interior decorations

The Chapel of the Kings

Two initially similar towers, varied over time

The chorus: beating heart of the cathedral

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

The Great Presbytery: a unique space for the cathedral

The king’s mark

The original design

Characteristics of religious architecture in the romanesque period

The dialogue between the architectures of the monumental complex

Palermo: the happiest city

The lost chapel

The liturgical spaces of the protesis and the diaconicon

The Kings’ Cathedrals

The Great Restoration

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

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

Roger II of hauteville: a sovereign protected by God

A Northern population

Layers of different cultures decorate the external apses

The construction of Monreale Cathedral: between myth and history

The side aisles

A chapel by an unknown designer based on repeated symmetries

Under the crosses of the Bema

The senses tell Context 1

The beginning of the construction site

A controversial interpretation

The Chapel of St. Mary Magdalene

Artistic elements in Peter’s ship

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

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

Gardens and architecture as a backdrop to the city of Palermo

The Virgin Hodegetria

The Cathedral over the centuries