Palermo Cathedral
St. Mary Magdalene

The rediscovered chapel

It was only after recent studies carried out in connection to the restoration work performed in Palermo Cathedral since the 1980s that the Magdalene Chapel was identified in the exact place where it was built, next to the wall of the mother church, as reported in Gualtiero’s petition. It is, therefore, identifiable in the lower part of the Old Sacristy, whose external cornice decoration is the same in the first and second orders of the scalar towers, which date back to medieval times.
The interior of the building shows the difference between the two overlapping buildings. The part erected in the 15th century, with ribbed vaults covering the room, had also partially concealed two large single-lancet windows, which provided light to the inside of the Antititulo , close to the apse of the Diaconico .

The building is raised by about one metre from the external level. Underneath, there is a crypt with several chambers and a rectangular hatch in the vault, indicating its use as a burial place, according to its original purpose. The chapel, built at the behest of Queen Elvira, uncovered another interesting detail, namely a small compartment in the masonry connecting the chapel to the apse of the Diaconico.
This room, which is similar to the contemporary one in Cefalù Cathedral, was probably the Queen’s gallery, where she could attend the sacred functions without being present in the presbytery area itself. The room, about 5 metres high, could be accessed via a wooden balcony, which has now been removed. It was connected to an opening in the eastern wall, which belonged to the original chapel and could be reached by a spiral staircase, which also gave access to the crypt below.

The king’s mark

The towers facing the facade used as bell towers

Palermo: the happiest city

The Chapel of St. Mary Magdalene

The Cathedral over the centuries

The Gualtiero Cathedral

The towers and the western facade

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

Two initially similar towers, varied over time

Cefalù: settlement evidence through time

Gardens and architecture as a backdrop to the city of Palermo

The Bible carved in stone

Roger II’s strategic design

Roger II of hauteville: a sovereign protected by God

The transformations of the hall through the centuries

Survey of the royal tombs

The construction of Monreale Cathedral: between myth and history

A mixture of styles pervades the floor decorations

Porphyry sarcophagi: royalty and power

The cultural substrate through time

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

Ecclesia munita

A tree full of life

The mosaics of the apses

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

The stone bible

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

Characteristics of religious architecture in the romanesque period

A polysemy of high-level artistic forms and content

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

Mosaic decoration

The Great Presbytery: a unique space for the cathedral

The mosaics of the presbytery

Squaring the circle

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

A space between the visible and the invisible

The decorated facade

The dialogue between the architectures of the monumental complex

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

The beginning of the construction site

A cloister of accentuated stylistic variety

The chapel of St. Benedict

The balance between architecture and light

Transformations over the centuries

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

The area of the Sanctuary

The side aisles

Artistic elements in Peter’s ship

Under the crosses of the Bema

The Chapel of the Kings

Norman religious architecture with islamic influences in Sicily

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

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

Layers of different cultures decorate the external apses

Beyond the harmony of proportions

The longest aisle

A new Cathedral

Interior decorations

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

A chapel by an unknown designer based on repeated symmetries

The chapel of san Castrense: an important renaissance work

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

A Northern population

The rediscovered chapel

The Kings’ Cathedrals

The original design

From the Mosque to the Cathedral

A palimpsest of history

The chorus: beating heart of the cathedral

The medieval city amidst monasticism and feudal aristocracy

The senses tell Context 1

The chystro: a place between earth and sky

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

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

A remarkable ceiling

The Virgin Hodegetria

The liturgical spaces of the protesis and the diaconicon

The cemetery of kings

Worship services

The southern portico

The Great Restoration

The lost chapel

A controversial interpretation