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.

A mixture of styles pervades the floor decorations

The transformations of the hall through the centuries

The dialogue between the architectures of the monumental complex

The towers and the western facade

Gardens and architecture as a backdrop to the city of Palermo

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

A cloister of accentuated stylistic variety

Survey of the royal tombs

The chorus: beating heart of the cathedral

The towers facing the facade used as bell towers

A tree full of life

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

From the Mosque to the Cathedral

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

Interior decorations

A space between the visible and the invisible

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

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

The Chapel of St. Mary Magdalene

Under the crosses of the Bema

Worship services

The Chapel of the Kings

The rediscovered chapel

The Great Restoration

Layers of different cultures decorate the external apses

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

Norman religious architecture with islamic influences in Sicily

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

The Bible carved in stone

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

Mosaic decoration

The longest aisle

The cultural substrate through time

The Gualtiero Cathedral

A controversial interpretation

Artistic elements in Peter’s ship

The decorated facade

The cemetery of kings

The side aisles

Squaring the circle

The Virgin Hodegetria

The Kings’ Cathedrals

A chapel by an unknown designer based on repeated symmetries

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

The medieval city amidst monasticism and feudal aristocracy

The chystro: a place between earth and sky

The mosaics of the presbytery

Cefalù: settlement evidence through time

The liturgical spaces of the protesis and the diaconicon

The chapel of san Castrense: an important renaissance work

A palimpsest of history

The senses tell Context 1

The stone bible

A polysemy of high-level artistic forms and content

The area of the Sanctuary

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

The chapel of St. Benedict

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

Roger II of hauteville: a sovereign protected by God

Beyond the harmony of proportions

The Great Presbytery: a unique space for the cathedral

Two initially similar towers, varied over time

The balance between architecture and light

Ecclesia munita

A remarkable ceiling

The southern portico

Palermo: the happiest city

Porphyry sarcophagi: royalty and power

Characteristics of religious architecture in the romanesque period

Roger II’s strategic design

The original design

The Cathedral over the centuries

A new Cathedral

The mosaics of the apses

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

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

The beginning of the construction site

The king’s mark

The construction of Monreale Cathedral: between myth and history

A Northern population

Transformations over the centuries

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

The lost chapel