the mosaic cycle
The Palatine Chapel

The mosaics of the transept and the apses

The presbytery is divided from the nave by two triumphal arches .The first, which separates the hall from the sanctuary, depicts the scene of Jesus in the Temple, while the second, near the apse , as is customary in Byzantine mosaic cycles, represents the Annunciation: the Announcing Angel is on the left and the Virgin is on the right.The enlargement of the Royal Palace buildings, which incorporated the Palatine Chapel, led to the transformation of the apse area from the 16th century onwards.
The original polygonal perimeter wall was altered and the windows in the drum of the three apses were closed. This damage was remedied by mosaic decorations in harmony with the surroundings. These decorations included the figure of the Madonna, seated on a chair, in the central apse, between Mary Magdalene and St John the Baptist; in the right-hand apse, St Anne and Mary as a child; and in the left-hand apse, an 18th-century mosaic by Santi Cardini depicting St Joseph with the baby Jesus.The central apse has Christ Pantocrator in the dome, giving his blessing, with the Gospel in his hands and the Virgin Mary in the basin, between Peter and Mary Magdalene on the left and John the Baptist and James the Apostle on the right. Above, there is the dove of the Holy Spirit, the symbols of the Passion and Etimasia . In the medallions of the inner sides of the longitudinal arches and the triumphal arch, there are images of saints.The space is surmounted by a dome in the centre of which the blessing Christ Pantocrator is enclosed in a golden circle and surrounded by a host of eight angels and archangels , all dressed in royal robes and four holding the Globus Cruciger , or “the orb and cross”, in their hands.The prophets Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel, Jonah, Daniel, Moses, Elijah and Elisha, holding scrolls, are depicted on the edges of the drum. In the tondos above the supporting arches of the dome are portraits of David, Solomon, Zechariah and John the Baptist. In the corner niches, the four Evangelists are depicted: Matthew, Luke, Mark, John.At the base of the drum, an inscription in Greek reads 28 April 1143 and recalls the day of the consecration. The side apses, as usual, are dedicated to St. Peter and St. Paul.In the right transept , at the prothesis , above the altar, there is a depiction of St. Anne and the child Mary and St. Paul, to whom the chapel is dedicated, is depicted in the apse basin. In the upper part, you can admire one of the oldest scenes of the Nativity of Jesus , rich in symbols and allegories, and the Christ Pantocrator with the Gospel of John in his hands, while blessing the faithful.The southern transept continues with scenes from the life of Christ: the proclamation to the shepherds, the flight into Egypt, the Baptism, the Transfiguration, the Resurrection of Lazarus, the entry into Jerusalem. On the arch five prophets and on the vault, the Pentecost is depicted.In the north transept, on the left, at the Diaconicon , in the bowl of the apse, the mosaic decoration shows St Joseph and the baby Jesus, and in the cupola, there is a portrait of St Andrew and above it, there is a depiction of the Virgin and Child.The arch separating the transept from the presbytery depicts five saints and the Ascension of Christ in the vault.

The senses tell the architecture

Saint Peter’s Chapel in the Royal Palace

The birth of the Norman kingdom

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

The mosaics of the transept and the apses


The Cassaro

The senses tell the historical context

The rediscovered palace

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

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

The senses tell the historical context

The senses tell baroque decoration

The interior of the church

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

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

the Baroque exterior

Intertwining of knowledge in Norman Palermo

The architectural appearance and transformations over time

The senses tell the interior

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

The Palace of Kings

A building constructed in a short space of time

The flooring: shapes, motifs and iconography

The senses tell the ceiling

the Baroque interior

The senses tell the flooring

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

The Royal Throne

The senses tell the Zisa over the centuries

The decorations on the bell tower

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

The senses tell the external architecture and the original layout

The Genoard Park, the garden of pleasures and wonders

The Admiral’s dedication

The senses tell restorations

An architectural crescendo

The return of water


The architectural space

The mosaics of the naves

The opus sectile floor of the Palatine Chapel

The senses tell the historical context

The senses tell the architecture and decorations

From oblivion to the recovery of memory

The mosaic cycle, an ascending path towards the light

From earthquake to collapse

The senses tell the mosaic cycle

Shapes and colours of the wooden ceiling