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 southern portico

Interior decorations

Layers of different cultures decorate the external apses

A space between the visible and the invisible

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

Roger II’s strategic design

Squaring the circle

A cloister of accentuated stylistic variety

The Gualtiero Cathedral

The stone bible

The Cathedral over the centuries

The cemetery of kings

The decorated facade

The Chapel of St. Mary Magdalene

The Virgin Hodegetria

The Chapel of the Kings

The longest aisle

The side aisles

The lost chapel

The transformations of the hall through the centuries

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

A tree full of life

The liturgical spaces of the protesis and the diaconicon

A palimpsest of history

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

The king’s mark

The dialogue between the architectures of the monumental complex

Beyond the harmony of proportions

A polysemy of high-level artistic forms and content

Gardens and architecture as a backdrop to the city of Palermo

A new Cathedral

The Great Restoration

The mosaics of the presbytery

The Bible carved in stone

Cefalù: settlement evidence through time

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

A controversial interpretation

Worship services

From the Mosque to the Cathedral

The chystro: a place between earth and sky

Roger II of hauteville: a sovereign protected by God

Characteristics of religious architecture in the romanesque period

A remarkable ceiling

Under the crosses of the Bema

The mosaics of the apses

The original design

The area of the Sanctuary

Mosaic decoration

The cultural substrate through time

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

Norman religious architecture with islamic influences in Sicily

Two initially similar towers, varied over time

The chorus: beating heart of the cathedral

The rediscovered chapel

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

The medieval city amidst monasticism and feudal aristocracy

The towers facing the facade used as bell towers

Palermo: the happiest city

Ecclesia munita

The construction of Monreale Cathedral: between myth and history

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

Survey of the royal tombs

The balance between architecture and light

A mixture of styles pervades the floor decorations

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

A chapel by an unknown designer based on repeated symmetries

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

The senses tell Context 1

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

The chapel of St. Benedict

The towers and the western facade

The Kings’ Cathedrals

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

Artistic elements in Peter’s ship

Transformations over the centuries

Porphyry sarcophagi: royalty and power

The chapel of san Castrense: an important renaissance work

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

A Northern population

The beginning of the construction site

The Great Presbytery: a unique space for the cathedral

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

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