Monreale Cathedral
the Context 1

The senses tell Context 1

sight
The vegetation of the Palermo plain

As Ugo Falcando carefully describes, the flourishing vegetation of the landscape of the Palermo plain in the 12th century showed colours ranging from the pink hues of the lumia flowers to the bright tones of the oranges and pomegranates, similar to the fiery streaks of timeless sunsets.

smell
Scent of spices and colours

New fruit trees such as cedars, lemons and oranges were introduced to the endless green expanses of the flourishing Palermo plain as part of a diverse cultivation system. In addition to the pleasant view enhanced by a rich palette of colours, there was no shortage of the spicy scents of cinnamon, cloves, ginger and jasmine, which permeated the air with a mixture of Middle Eastern aromas.

hearing
Parks, gardens and water features

In the parks and gardens, you can hear the water gushing. The knowledge with which the Arab culture was imbued, starting with the development of science and mathematics, also involved the reorganisation of the layout of Palermo. The city became an area where studies on water channelling systems, including the underground water channels known as quanāt, gave impetus to the construction of parks and suburban gardens enriched by the presence of surface pipelines, saie, fountains and water collection tanks.

The towers and the western facade

Porphyry sarcophagi: royalty and power

The chapel of St. Benedict

The cultural substrate through time

The beginning of the construction site

A mixture of styles pervades the floor decorations

A controversial interpretation

The southern portico

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

The Cathedral over the centuries

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

Cefalù: settlement evidence through time

Beyond the harmony of proportions

The king’s mark

Roger II of hauteville: a sovereign protected by God

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

The original design

A cloister of accentuated stylistic variety

A space between the visible and the invisible

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

The longest aisle

The Gualtiero Cathedral

A polysemy of high-level artistic forms and content

A remarkable ceiling

Under the crosses of the Bema

The liturgical spaces of the protesis and the diaconicon

The senses tell Context 1

The mosaics of the apses

The chapel of san Castrense: an important renaissance work

The towers facing the facade used as bell towers

The Chapel of St. Mary Magdalene

Artistic elements in Peter’s ship

Ecclesia munita

Norman religious architecture with islamic influences in Sicily

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

The Great Presbytery: a unique space for the cathedral

The Bible carved in stone

A Northern population

Layers of different cultures decorate the external apses

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

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

The area of the Sanctuary

Roger II’s strategic design

The mosaics of the presbytery

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

Survey of the royal tombs

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

Gardens and architecture as a backdrop to the city of Palermo

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

The Chapel of the Kings

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

The balance between architecture and light

The rediscovered chapel

Palermo: the happiest city

The cemetery of kings

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

The Virgin Hodegetria

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

Transformations over the centuries

From the Mosque to the Cathedral

Worship services

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

The transformations of the hall through the centuries

A new Cathedral

The Kings’ Cathedrals

Mosaic decoration

A chapel by an unknown designer based on repeated symmetries

Two initially similar towers, varied over time

The medieval city amidst monasticism and feudal aristocracy

The Great Restoration

Characteristics of religious architecture in the romanesque period

A palimpsest of history

The chystro: a place between earth and sky

The construction of Monreale Cathedral: between myth and history

The dialogue between the architectures of the monumental complex

Squaring the circle

Interior decorations

The decorated facade

A tree full of life

The side aisles

The stone bible

The lost chapel

The chorus: beating heart of the cathedral