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.

The original design

The chorus: beating heart of the cathedral

The mosaics of the apses

The construction of Monreale Cathedral: between myth and history

The chapel of san Castrense: an important renaissance work

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

The beginning of the construction site

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

From the Mosque to the Cathedral

The longest aisle

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

The Great Presbytery: a unique space for the cathedral

Squaring the circle

Porphyry sarcophagi: royalty and power

A Northern population

The chapel of St. Benedict

The towers facing the facade used as bell towers

Characteristics of religious architecture in the romanesque period

The side aisles

The chystro: a place between earth and sky

The senses tell Context 1

Roger II’s strategic design

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

The decorated facade

The transformations of the hall through the centuries

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

A palimpsest of history

A new Cathedral

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

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

Layers of different cultures decorate the external apses

Norman religious architecture with islamic influences in Sicily

The stone bible

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

Two initially similar towers, varied over time

A space between the visible and the invisible

Survey of the royal tombs

Roger II of hauteville: a sovereign protected by God

The liturgical spaces of the protesis and the diaconicon

The southern portico

A remarkable ceiling

A mixture of styles pervades the floor decorations

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

A cloister of accentuated stylistic variety

Ecclesia munita

Worship services

The towers and the western facade

Mosaic decoration

The Gualtiero Cathedral

The cemetery of kings

Gardens and architecture as a backdrop to the city of Palermo

Cefalù: settlement evidence through time

The Bible carved in stone

A tree full of life

The mosaics of the presbytery

Artistic elements in Peter’s ship

The Chapel of St. Mary Magdalene

A polysemy of high-level artistic forms and content

The balance between architecture and light

Beyond the harmony of proportions

The Great Restoration

A chapel by an unknown designer based on repeated symmetries

The lost chapel

The Chapel of the Kings

Under the crosses of the Bema

The rediscovered chapel

The Kings’ Cathedrals

The medieval city amidst monasticism and feudal aristocracy

Palermo: the happiest city

The cultural substrate through time

A controversial interpretation

The Virgin Hodegetria

The Cathedral over the centuries

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

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

The king’s mark

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

The dialogue between the architectures of the monumental complex

Interior decorations

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

The area of the Sanctuary

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

Transformations over the centuries