Monreale Cathedral
the chystro

The senses tell the Chystro

Fragrances from the garden

The garden does not contain flowers, which are instead carved into the stone of the capitals, but, divided into four parts, it is an oasis for four “biblical” plants: the fig, the pomegranate, the olive and the palm. The first two plants, the fig and the pomegranate, refer to the Old Testament, as they are considered to be historical. The fig tree is located in the south-east and symbolises the Garden of Eden and therefore the place of creation. The pomegranate tree is located in the north-east, in the garden of the Song of Songs, where the groom meets the bride. For the New Testament, the presence of symbolic plants is notable. The Olive tree, an allegory of Gethsemane and the future Easter, is located to the north-west, while the Palm tree, in the garden of the Apocalypse, is located to the south-west.

Water as a sign of salvation and purity

Water is a fundamental element of the cloistered space, symbolic of salvation and purification. It flows from the lion and human mouths of the unique fountain, located at the corner between the western and southern aisles, a palimpsest of different stylistic features, into the round basin. The fountain, named after the king, gives the cloister the image of an enclosed garden, an allegory of Paradise.

Symbols, myths and allegories

The aisles, the sides of which form a perfect square, are rhythmically marked by twenty-six ogival arches, supported by 228 smooth, inlaid, coupled columns. The columns’ bases bear motifs of stylised leaves, rosettes, lion’s paws, beasts, men and animals in groups, frogs and lizards. Capitals rest on the columns, decorated and historiated with biblical episodes, followed by scenes from the New Testament and genre scenes, as well as those inspired by medieval symbolism and bestiaries. The sculptural work also alternates figurative decorations with mythological, botanical, symbolic and allegorical themes and floral elements.

King William offers the Dome to the Virgin Mary

Among the scenes sculpted in the capitals, the “dedication” is of great symbolic significance. Mirroring what is already depicted in the mosaic cycle in the apse area of the Cathedral, King William is depicted kneeling while offering and giving the model of the Cathedral as a gift to the Child, seated in the arms of the Virgin Mary.

The decorated facade

The Chapel of St. Mary Magdalene

The chystro: a place between earth and sky

Roger II’s strategic design

Roger II of hauteville: a sovereign protected by God

The medieval city amidst monasticism and feudal aristocracy

The senses tell Context 1

The rediscovered chapel

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

From the Mosque to the Cathedral

A palimpsest of history

The Great Presbytery: a unique space for the cathedral

A new Cathedral

The Cathedral over the centuries

Transformations over the centuries

A chapel by an unknown designer based on repeated symmetries

The chorus: beating heart of the cathedral

Worship services

A tree full of life

Layers of different cultures decorate the external apses

The mosaics of the presbytery

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

The stone bible

The construction of Monreale Cathedral: between myth and history

The chapel of St. Benedict

The area of the Sanctuary

The Great Restoration

Squaring the circle

Two initially similar towers, varied over time

The mosaics of the apses

The liturgical spaces of the protesis and the diaconicon

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

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 king’s mark

Cefalù: settlement evidence through time

The towers and the western facade

Characteristics of religious architecture in the romanesque period

The Chapel of the Kings

The longest aisle

The transformations of the hall through the centuries

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

The cemetery of kings

Interior decorations

Under the crosses of the Bema

The southern portico

Mosaic decoration

The Bible carved in stone

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

A space between the visible and the invisible

A controversial interpretation

The beginning of the construction site

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

A Northern population

The dialogue between the architectures of the monumental complex

The chapel of san Castrense: an important renaissance work

Norman religious architecture with islamic influences in Sicily

Survey of the royal tombs

Ecclesia munita

Porphyry sarcophagi: royalty and power

The towers facing the facade used as bell towers

The cultural substrate through time

The lost chapel

The original design

The Gualtiero Cathedral

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

The side aisles

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

Artistic elements in Peter’s ship

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

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

A remarkable ceiling

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

The Virgin Hodegetria

The Kings’ Cathedrals

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

The balance between architecture and light

A mixture of styles pervades the floor decorations

Palermo: the happiest city

Beyond the harmony of proportions

A polysemy of high-level artistic forms and content

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

A cloister of accentuated stylistic variety