Palermo Cathedral
The great Presbytery and the apses

The senses tell the great Presbytery and the apses

sight
The marble tribune

In 1509, Antonello Gagini began one of his career’s greatest works: the marble tribune for the central apse of the Cathedral. Even though the majestic creation can no longer be admired following the restorations in the 18th century, in past centuries the faithful who flocked to the cathedral could gaze upon the Sanctuary and contemplate a timeless wonder, the fruit of the ingenuity and mastery of one of the greatest sculptors of the 16th century.

smell
Incense and candles: all ready for the celebration

The spicy scent of incense fills the area of the Sanctuary, where the priest is preparing to begin the Sacred Celebration. The faithful kneel in prayer while a deacon lights candles that create a soft interplay of light.

touch
The durability of the material

The Palermo Cathedral, like that of Cefalù, was designed as an ecclesia munita. For this reason, a system of passages was created, inside the walls and in the upper parts, as patrol walkways, protected by elegant battlements placed at the top of the building. In the area of the Presbytery, these passages were also opened up to the interior of the church, with a colonnaded loggia, built of terracotta bricks, with lily capitals, covered with red and green painted plaster.

hearing
Echoes of the Choir

The Cathedral Choir can be found in the large Presbytery, a row of chiselled wooden stalls, built in the Catalan Gothic style in 1466. The first two stalls, on the right and left, are reserved for the Bishop and the Cathedral’s Ciantro. The Cathedral Chapter, consisting of the canons, sits in the choir and during the Easter Vigil they sing the Exsultet, which echoes throughout the church with majestic solemnity.

Roger II of hauteville: a sovereign protected by God

The side aisles

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

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

Palermo: the happiest city

The area of the Sanctuary

The towers and the western facade

A tree full of life

The Cathedral over the centuries

The cultural substrate through time

Two initially similar towers, varied over time

The lost chapel

A mixture of styles pervades the floor decorations

The medieval city amidst monasticism and feudal aristocracy

The senses tell Context 1

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

The Great Presbytery: a unique space for the cathedral

Under the crosses of the Bema

The mosaics of the presbytery

Worship services

A space between the visible and the invisible

Porphyry sarcophagi: royalty and power

Roger II’s strategic design

The beginning of the construction site

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

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

The decorated facade

The towers facing the facade used as bell towers

The construction of Monreale Cathedral: between myth and history

The Great Restoration

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

The king’s mark

The balance between architecture and light

The stone bible

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

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

The rediscovered chapel

The liturgical spaces of the protesis and the diaconicon

The original design

A remarkable ceiling

A polysemy of high-level artistic forms and content

The chapel of san Castrense: an important renaissance work

A cloister of accentuated stylistic variety

From the Mosque to the Cathedral

A new Cathedral

Beyond the harmony of proportions

The Chapel of St. Mary Magdalene

Norman religious architecture with islamic influences in Sicily

A chapel by an unknown designer based on repeated symmetries

A palimpsest of history

Artistic elements in Peter’s ship

Ecclesia munita

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

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

The Virgin Hodegetria

The Gualtiero Cathedral

Characteristics of religious architecture in the romanesque period

The chapel of St. Benedict

The cemetery of kings

The mosaics of the apses

The Chapel of the Kings

The chorus: beating heart of the cathedral

Transformations over the centuries

The chystro: a place between earth and sky

The Kings’ Cathedrals

Interior decorations

Squaring the circle

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

A controversial interpretation

Survey of the royal tombs

The dialogue between the architectures of the monumental complex

Gardens and architecture as a backdrop to the city of Palermo

Mosaic decoration

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

The longest aisle

Layers of different cultures decorate the external apses

The transformations of the hall through the centuries

A Northern population

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

The Bible carved in stone

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

The southern portico

Cefalù: settlement evidence through time