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.

A chapel by an unknown designer based on repeated symmetries

Beyond the harmony of proportions

The decorated facade

The chapel of St. Benedict

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

Palermo: the happiest city

Gardens and architecture as a backdrop to the city of Palermo

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

The mosaics of the apses

The Bible carved in stone

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

The Great Restoration

The stone bible

The original design

Worship services

The chorus: beating heart of the cathedral

The southern portico

The chystro: a place between earth and sky

Artistic elements in Peter’s ship

The construction of Monreale Cathedral: between myth and history

A new Cathedral

A remarkable ceiling

Squaring the circle

Porphyry sarcophagi: royalty and power

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

Ecclesia munita

The dialogue between the architectures of the monumental complex

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

The Virgin Hodegetria

The transformations of the hall through the centuries

The towers facing the facade used as bell towers

Characteristics of religious architecture in the romanesque period

A controversial interpretation

The senses tell Context 1

A cloister of accentuated stylistic variety

Norman religious architecture with islamic influences in Sicily

The Great Presbytery: a unique space for the cathedral

The king’s mark

A mixture of styles pervades the floor decorations

The longest aisle

Roger II’s strategic design

The mosaics of the presbytery

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

The side aisles

A Northern population

A space between the visible and the invisible

The beginning of the construction site

The medieval city amidst monasticism and feudal aristocracy

The cemetery of kings

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

From the Mosque to the Cathedral

A tree full of life

Two initially similar towers, varied over time

Transformations over the centuries

The area of the Sanctuary

The balance between architecture and light

Under the crosses of the Bema

The rediscovered chapel

The lost chapel

Roger II of hauteville: a sovereign protected by God

Cefalù: settlement evidence through time

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

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

The Cathedral over the centuries

A palimpsest of history

The liturgical spaces of the protesis and the diaconicon

The towers and the western facade

Layers of different cultures decorate the external apses

The Chapel of the Kings

Interior decorations

The cultural substrate through time

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

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

A polysemy of high-level artistic forms and content

The Kings’ Cathedrals

The Gualtiero Cathedral

The Chapel of St. Mary Magdalene

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

Survey of the royal tombs

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

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

Mosaic decoration