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.
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.
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.
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.