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 towers and the western facade

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

A Northern population

The mosaics of the presbytery

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

Artistic elements in Peter’s ship

The Great Presbytery: a unique space for the cathedral

Porphyry sarcophagi: royalty and power

The Cathedral over the centuries

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

The cemetery of kings

The Virgin Hodegetria

The cultural substrate through time

The mosaics of the apses

From the Mosque to the Cathedral

Cefalù: settlement evidence through time

The stone bible

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

Transformations over the centuries

A remarkable ceiling

Characteristics of religious architecture in the romanesque period

Roger II’s strategic design

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

The Bible carved in stone

The beginning of the construction site

The rediscovered chapel

Gardens and architecture as a backdrop to the city of Palermo

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

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

The lost chapel

Palermo: the happiest city

The decorated facade

Norman religious architecture with islamic influences in Sicily

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

The transformations of the hall through the centuries

The chystro: a place between earth and sky

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

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

A palimpsest of history

The liturgical spaces of the protesis and the diaconicon

The senses tell Context 1

Squaring the circle

The original design

A tree full of life

A new Cathedral

Survey of the royal tombs

The dialogue between the architectures of the monumental complex

The Chapel of the Kings

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

The chapel of St. Benedict

Roger II of hauteville: a sovereign protected by God

The Chapel of St. Mary Magdalene

The southern portico

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

The Gualtiero Cathedral

Layers of different cultures decorate the external apses

The Kings’ Cathedrals

A cloister of accentuated stylistic variety

Beyond the harmony of proportions

The side aisles

The chorus: beating heart of the cathedral

A mixture of styles pervades the floor decorations

A space between the visible and the invisible

A polysemy of high-level artistic forms and content

A controversial interpretation

The Great Restoration

The construction of Monreale Cathedral: between myth and history

Mosaic decoration

The balance between architecture and light

The longest aisle

The area of the Sanctuary

Under the crosses of the Bema

The king’s mark

The towers facing the facade used as bell towers

Worship services

The chapel of san Castrense: an important renaissance work

Interior decorations

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

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

A chapel by an unknown designer based on repeated symmetries

Ecclesia munita

Two initially similar towers, varied over time

The medieval city amidst monasticism and feudal aristocracy