Apses and transept
Cefalù Cathedral

The senses tell Apses and transept

The splendour of the Pantocrator

The interior of the spaces of the presbytery area and the transept correspond to the volume, as designed by Roger’s original project. The difference between this part of the building and the other, consisting of the aisles, is the large triumphal arch, visible in its original height, on the transept side, and reduced by a sub-arch on the aisle side. The front of the transept leading into the apsidal spaces is characterised by the typical overlapping columns placed in angular niches. In the apsidal basin, the grandiose Christ Pantocrator, the King of Kings, emerges from the golden background. With his majestic embrace and stern but benevolent gaze, he welcomes the faithful while holding the Gospel firmly in his left hand. The volume has an open page, both in Greek and Latin, which contains the phrase from the Gospel of John: “I am the light of the world; Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life”.

Prothesis and Diaconicon: two spaces for liturgical rites

The medieval church had the apse area as its only liturgical space. In smaller religious buildings, the apse had two small lateral service rooms for the safekeeping of sacred books and preparing the liturgy. In larger churches and cathedrals, these areas were enlarged, as in the case of the Cefalù Cathedral, through the construction of two apses mirroring the central one. Thus, in liturgical practice, the Prothesis apse and the Diaconicon apse took shape. The first contained the liturgical objects intended for the offertory and the Eucharist, while the second was furnished with cabinets containing the vestments of the officiants and the sacred books.

The divine light

The smell of wax wafts through the sacred area of the apse. The candles take their place in the central apse, near and on the altar, and are the symbol of the Light of God. The precious Paschal candle, which represents Jesus Light of the World, is also lit during Easter time. The candle from Cefalù has a column-shaped stem, while the historiated capital is decorated with an eagle and human figures. The patera, where the candle rests, is made of lumachella stone, coming from the nearby Rocca, and is decorated with three sphinxes.

The mosaics of the apses

Roger II’s strategic design

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

The king’s mark

Palermo: the happiest city

Worship services

The cultural substrate through time

The original design

The Kings’ Cathedrals

The mosaics of the presbytery

A remarkable ceiling

Squaring the circle

Two initially similar towers, varied over time

Roger II of hauteville: a sovereign protected by God

From the Mosque to the Cathedral

Cefalù: settlement evidence through time

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

Layers of different cultures decorate the external apses

The chorus: beating heart of the cathedral

Survey of the royal tombs

The chystro: a place between earth and sky

A tree full of life

A palimpsest of history

A chapel by an unknown designer based on repeated symmetries

The beginning of the construction site

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

The decorated facade

Norman religious architecture with islamic influences in Sicily

A cloister of accentuated stylistic variety

The Cathedral over the centuries

The Great Presbytery: a unique space for the cathedral

The southern portico

The lost chapel

The construction of Monreale Cathedral: between myth and history

Interior decorations

A Northern population

The chapel of St. Benedict

The rediscovered chapel

Gardens and architecture as a backdrop to the city of Palermo

The towers and the western facade

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

The Chapel of St. Mary Magdalene

A new Cathedral

Ecclesia munita

The senses tell Context 1

The area of the Sanctuary

A mixture of styles pervades the floor decorations

The Bible carved in stone

The Gualtiero Cathedral

The balance between architecture and light

A space between the visible and the invisible

Under the crosses of the Bema

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

The towers facing the facade used as bell towers

The Chapel of the Kings

Mosaic decoration

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

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

Beyond the harmony of proportions

The medieval city amidst monasticism and feudal aristocracy

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

The side aisles

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

The Virgin Hodegetria

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

The liturgical spaces of the protesis and the diaconicon

A polysemy of high-level artistic forms and content

The cemetery of kings

The dialogue between the architectures of the monumental complex

The longest aisle

The chapel of san Castrense: an important renaissance work

Characteristics of religious architecture in the romanesque period

The stone bible

The Great Restoration

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

Transformations over the centuries

The transformations of the hall through the centuries

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

Artistic elements in Peter’s ship

A controversial interpretation

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

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

Porphyry sarcophagi: royalty and power