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 Northern population

The beginning of the construction site

A cloister of accentuated stylistic variety

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

Ecclesia munita

A chapel by an unknown designer based on repeated symmetries

The dialogue between the architectures of the monumental complex

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

The Kings’ Cathedrals

The towers facing the facade used as bell towers

Squaring the circle

A mixture of styles pervades the floor decorations

The mosaics of the apses

Two initially similar towers, varied over time

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

The Virgin Hodegetria

The cultural substrate through time

The lost chapel

Worship services

The decorated facade

A palimpsest of history

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

A controversial interpretation

The medieval city amidst monasticism and feudal aristocracy

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

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

The mosaics of the presbytery

Transformations over the centuries

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

A tree full of life

A new Cathedral

The construction of Monreale Cathedral: between myth and history

Mosaic decoration

The transformations of the hall through the centuries

The side aisles

The chystro: a place between earth and sky

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

Characteristics of religious architecture in the romanesque period

Roger II of hauteville: a sovereign protected by God

The cemetery of kings

The Cathedral over the centuries

The chapel of san Castrense: an important renaissance work

Under the crosses of the Bema

The Chapel of St. Mary Magdalene

The Gualtiero Cathedral

Beyond the harmony of proportions

The Chapel of the Kings

The chapel of St. Benedict

The rediscovered chapel

The stone bible

The balance between architecture and light

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

The southern portico

The towers and the western facade

Roger II’s strategic design

Interior decorations

The chorus: beating heart of the cathedral

The senses tell Context 1

Artistic elements in Peter’s ship

A polysemy of high-level artistic forms and content

A space between the visible and the invisible

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

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

From the Mosque to the Cathedral

Palermo: the happiest city

The king’s mark

The Bible carved in stone

Norman religious architecture with islamic influences in Sicily

Gardens and architecture as a backdrop to the city of Palermo

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

A remarkable ceiling

The longest aisle

Cefalù: settlement evidence through time

Survey of the royal tombs

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

The Great Restoration

Porphyry sarcophagi: royalty and power

The original design

The liturgical spaces of the protesis and the diaconicon

Layers of different cultures decorate the external apses

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

The Great Presbytery: a unique space for the cathedral

The area of the Sanctuary