Monreale Cathedral
the internal areas

The senses tell the internal areas

Spicy scent of incense

Entering the sacred building from the main west-facing portal, which William II of Hauteville dedicated to the Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary, is an invitation to participate in the most impenetrable expression of the infinite, through a pathway steeped in art that calls at the same time for profound veneration. The spicy scent of incense spreads from the sacred area of the Sanctuary, reaching the hall in a crescendo.

The profile of the columns

Built in the shape of a Latin cross, the basilica develops longitudinally, starting from the three aisles that divide the central body with nine rows of columns. Closing your eyes, following the outline of the columns, rhythmically arranged on each side of the central aisle, and touching the cold marble, is a way to mystically connect with the antiquity. The eighteen columns support capitals, irregularly distributed according to the size of the shaft, which in turn are topped by pulvinos that establish the beginning of the mosaic ornamentation of the walls, in an increasingly intense decorative rhythm.

The wonder of the mosaic cycle

Sparkling and precious, the entire mosaic mantle of the interior was created by Byzantine craftsmen and local artists over a rather long period of time, between about 1177 and 1183. It follows a precise theological-dogmatic logic, starting from the mosaics of the main aisle, in which scenes from the Creation to the Jacob cycle from the Old Testament stand out, to the episodes of the Life of Christ, visible in the side aisles and described in the New Testament. In this initial path, in which visitors are filled with an arcane and inexpressible feeling, one’s attention naturally focuses on the grandiose image of Christ Pantocrator in the apse, in eloquent harmony with the architecture as a whole.

The Great Restoration

Ecclesia munita

The beginning of the construction site

The lost chapel

Artistic elements in Peter’s ship

A Northern population

The chorus: beating heart of the cathedral

A space between the visible and the invisible

Survey of the royal tombs

The liturgical spaces of the protesis and the diaconicon

The longest aisle

The Chapel of St. Mary Magdalene

A chapel by an unknown designer based on repeated symmetries

The mosaics of the presbytery

The decorated facade

Beyond the harmony of proportions

The chapel of St. Benedict

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

The mosaics of the apses

Norman religious architecture with islamic influences in Sicily

The king’s mark

Squaring the circle

A remarkable ceiling

The side aisles

The senses tell Context 1

A mixture of styles pervades the floor decorations

The transformations of the hall through the centuries

Transformations over the centuries

The chystro: a place between earth and sky

The towers and the western facade

The balance between architecture and light

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

Porphyry sarcophagi: royalty and power

Gardens and architecture as a backdrop to the city of Palermo

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

The stone bible

The Bible carved in stone

The construction of Monreale Cathedral: between myth and history

The southern portico

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

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

The Cathedral over the centuries

The medieval city amidst monasticism and feudal aristocracy

A tree full of life

A new Cathedral

A polysemy of high-level artistic forms and content

Two initially similar towers, varied over time

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

The Gualtiero Cathedral

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

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

A palimpsest of history

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

The area of the Sanctuary

The towers facing the facade used as bell towers

A cloister of accentuated stylistic variety

The original design

Layers of different cultures decorate the external apses

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

From the Mosque to the Cathedral

The cemetery of kings

The Chapel of the Kings

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

Characteristics of religious architecture in the romanesque period

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

Interior decorations

Worship services

Roger II of hauteville: a sovereign protected by God

The rediscovered chapel

The cultural substrate through time

A controversial interpretation

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

Under the crosses of the Bema

Roger II’s strategic design

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

Cefalù: settlement evidence through time

The Kings’ Cathedrals

The Great Presbytery: a unique space for the cathedral

Mosaic decoration

The Virgin Hodegetria

The dialogue between the architectures of the monumental complex

Palermo: the happiest city

The chapel of san Castrense: an important renaissance work