Monreale Cathedral
the Context 1

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

The crown of mountains that surrounds Palermo and resembles the shape of a necklace was already found, in ancient times, in the Greek - Phoenician language of the city’s ancient inhabitants, although the Greek and then Latin origins of the name, Panormos/Panormus, also include the meaning of a port with a deep anchorage, although this was not specifically attributable as it was also used for other sites.
As early as the 12th century, the flourishing vegetation of this vast plain’s landscape, coloured by the pink hues of the lemon plants , the bright tones of the oranges and pomegranates, similar to the blazing streaks of timeless sunsets, was described in detail by Ugo Falcando .
The combination of the term “ conca ” with the fertile plain, as well as a Baroque definition by the Jesuit Giuseppe Mazara , could refer to its iconographic representation in modern times in the shell in the Genius of Palermo sculpture group in Palazzo Pretorio.Going back in time, even the Arabic term dāra can be traced back to the ring of mountains that rises around the lush plain of Palermo, as if to protect it. Even from the adjectives in the local erudite locution “Panormus, Urbsfelix, Concha aurea”, the city seems to express both a link to the flourishing natural resources that surrounded it and a reference to the presumed gold sands of the Oreto river, whose very etymology derives from the presence of gold. The colour of this noble metal, associated with the royal purple-red, echoes the heraldic tradition already present in the Roman-Byzantine era and the colour scheme of the city of Palermo in the Islamic Middle Ages.

Porphyry sarcophagi: royalty and power

The chapel of St. Benedict

The medieval city amidst monasticism and feudal aristocracy

A tree full of life

The mosaics of the apses

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

A palimpsest of history

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

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

The Chapel of the Kings

A mixture of styles pervades the floor decorations

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

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

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

The side aisles

The Kings’ Cathedrals

A space between the visible and the invisible

From the Mosque to the Cathedral

The southern portico

The chapel of san Castrense: an important renaissance work

The balance between architecture and light

The decorated facade

The Cathedral over the centuries

The transformations of the hall through the centuries

The liturgical spaces of the protesis and the diaconicon

Roger II’s strategic design

Under the crosses of the Bema

A controversial interpretation

A new Cathedral

The dialogue between the architectures of the monumental complex

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

The senses tell Context 1

The longest aisle

Palermo: the happiest city

The stone bible

Layers of different cultures decorate the external apses

The rediscovered chapel

The chystro: a place between earth and sky

Gardens and architecture as a backdrop to the city of Palermo

The construction of Monreale Cathedral: between myth and history

The Bible carved in stone

Two initially similar towers, varied over time

Cefalù: settlement evidence through time

The cemetery of kings

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

Roger II of hauteville: a sovereign protected by God

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

Squaring the circle

A polysemy of high-level artistic forms and content

The beginning of the construction site

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

The original design

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

The chorus: beating heart of the cathedral

The Great Restoration

Worship services

Survey of the royal tombs

A cloister of accentuated stylistic variety

Characteristics of religious architecture in the romanesque period

Ecclesia munita

Norman religious architecture with islamic influences in Sicily

A Northern population

Transformations over the centuries

Interior decorations

A remarkable ceiling

The Gualtiero Cathedral

Mosaic decoration

The king’s mark

The lost chapel

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

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

The Chapel of St. Mary Magdalene

The cultural substrate through time

The towers and the western facade

The Great Presbytery: a unique space for the cathedral

The mosaics of the presbytery

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

Beyond the harmony of proportions

The area of the Sanctuary

A chapel by an unknown designer based on repeated symmetries

Artistic elements in Peter’s ship

The Virgin Hodegetria