Cefalù Cathedral
the chystro

The original design

The cloister of Cefalù’s Basilica of the Transfiguration is the central nucleus of that vast collection of buildings that make up the conventual complex, erected next to the Cathedral.Over the centuries, there haven’t been any documents able to give us a precise construction date, so studies are still open.
In order to reconstruct the enigmatic story of the construction of the cloister and understand the dynamics of its current location, at a level of about three metres, considerably lower than the level of the naves of the adjacent church, it is necessary to reflect on the data that emerged from the recent restoration work, which has allowed us to formulate some hypotheses. The Cloister is located next to the wall of the Cathedral’s northern aisle , and therefore in a non-canonical position in relation to the Orthodox layout of the monastic complexes, which places it next to the wall of the church’s southern aisle. It should be remembered that the Cefalù cathedral church was built at the behest of Roger II, as a dedicatory temple and royal mausoleum. However, the grandiose and majestic building project, launched by the sovereign, was only completed after about two hundred years, interrupted by the completion of the apses , the presbytery and the transept .
The cathedral was completed after a long standstill with the creation of the naves and the modification of the original architectural layout. Entrance to the cloister was gained through the regular door in the western wall of the transept, with access to the eastern aisle and the anti-clockwise route along the aisles.
The cloister is delimited, to the south, by the north aisle of the church and surrounded, to the east and west, by the conventual buildings with the canonical spaces of the Abbey: the chapter house, the refectory, the dormitory; while to the north, on the sea front, it is not unlikely that the cloister aisle could have remained in some way open to the horizon, a unique feature found in the cloister of the Benedictine Mont-Saint-Michel Abbey .

Cefalù: settlement evidence through time

Roger II’s strategic design

Characteristics of religious architecture in the romanesque period

The mosaics of the apses

A chapel by an unknown designer based on repeated symmetries

The transformations of the hall through the centuries

A palimpsest of history

The lost chapel

The chapel of san Castrense: an important renaissance work

The balance between architecture and light

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

The side aisles

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

The senses tell Context 1

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

The Great Restoration

Under the crosses of the Bema

A new Cathedral

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

The mosaics of the presbytery

From the Mosque to the Cathedral

The chapel of St. Benedict

Two initially similar towers, varied over time

The dialogue between the architectures of the monumental complex

The original design

The liturgical spaces of the protesis and the diaconicon

Survey of the royal tombs

A mixture of styles pervades the floor decorations

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

Interior decorations

The towers facing the facade used as bell towers

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

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

A tree full of life

The Chapel of the Kings

The area of the Sanctuary

A cloister of accentuated stylistic variety

A Northern population

The construction of Monreale Cathedral: between myth and history

The cemetery of kings

Porphyry sarcophagi: royalty and power

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

Palermo: the happiest city

Beyond the harmony of proportions

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

The Gualtiero Cathedral

The Cathedral over the centuries

The beginning of the construction site

Squaring the circle

A polysemy of high-level artistic forms and content

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

Ecclesia munita

The cultural substrate through time

The towers and the western facade

The rediscovered chapel

The longest aisle

Worship services

Roger II of hauteville: a sovereign protected by God

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

The chorus: beating heart of the cathedral

The Bible carved in stone

The stone bible

The southern portico

Transformations over the centuries

The Virgin Hodegetria

The king’s mark

A space between the visible and the invisible

The medieval city amidst monasticism and feudal aristocracy

Norman religious architecture with islamic influences in Sicily

A remarkable ceiling

A controversial interpretation

Artistic elements in Peter’s ship

The Kings’ Cathedrals

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

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

Mosaic decoration

The chystro: a place between earth and sky

Layers of different cultures decorate the external apses

The decorated facade

The Chapel of St. Mary Magdalene

Gardens and architecture as a backdrop to the city of Palermo

The Great Presbytery: a unique space for the cathedral

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