the historical context
The Palatine Chapel

The senses tell the historical context

The magnificence of the Cassaro

In the Norman era, walking on the Cassaro Alto meant admiring the magnificence of monarchical power. Today’s Cassaro derives from Qasr, the palace that became the seat of the Emir during Islamic rule. Following his coronation, Roger II decided to transform and extend the building to make it his palace. It was a marvel for the eyes: the curtain wall was interspersed with watchtowers and you could already catch a glimpse of the red dome of the chapel the king had designed for himself: the Palatine.

The mosaic artist from Byzantium

Craftsmen, stonemasons, artists, marble workers: there were many craftsmen working on the extension of the Qasr and the construction of King Roger’s personal chapel, the Palatine. In the space in front of the palace, a Byzantine mosaic artist chooses the tiles for the mosaic cycle. They examine them and touch them, they have bright colours and a durable texture. But now there’s no time to waste, the Palatine Chapel must be finished within a few months, to then shine for eternity.

Between two rivers

The Cassaro is situated in an elevated position, between the depressions of the Kemonia and Papireto rivers which, at that time, delimited the core of the ancient city. The sound of flowing water brought tranquillity to the people of the time, as they bustled around the ancient markets for spices and textiles. For a moment, they seem to forget the noise and vigour of the horses’ hooves used by the nobles to reach the palace.

The architectural space

The rediscovered palace

The senses tell the architecture

Saint Peter’s Chapel in the Royal Palace

The senses tell the ceiling

the roof of Paradise: one of the most representative works of medieval art

The senses tell the external architecture and the original layout

the Baroque exterior

the Baroque interior

The senses tell the flooring

The senses tell baroque decoration

The mosaic cycle, an ascending path towards the light

The birth of the Norman kingdom

The senses tell the historical context

The senses tell the historical context

The architectural envelope: the Greek cross layout oriented towards the light

The senses tell the historical context

The Admiral’s dedication

The beautiful Zisa and its garden: solacium regi among sounds, colours and scents

The loca solatiorum: dwellings for recreation, well-being and hunting


The return of water

Gold and light: the splendour of the mosaics in the Royal Chapel

The ancient convent of the Martorana, a history of devotion and tradition

An architectural crescendo

Different styles and transformations of “one of the most beautiful monuments in the world”

Intertwining of knowledge in Norman Palermo

The mosaics of the naves

The architectural appearance and transformations over time

The mosaics of the transept and the apses

The flooring: shapes, motifs and iconography

The Royal Throne

The interior of the church

The senses tell the mosaic cycle

From oblivion to the recovery of memory

The senses tell restorations

The Palace of Kings

A building constructed in a short space of time

The Norman conquest of Sicily and the birth of a new Latin kingdom

From earthquake to collapse

Shapes and colours of the wooden ceiling


The Cassaro

The senses tell the interior

The Genoard Park, the garden of pleasures and wonders

The senses tell the Zisa over the centuries

The decorations on the bell tower

The opus sectile floor of the Palatine Chapel

The senses tell the architecture and decorations