The Chapel of the Royal Tombs houses the tombs of Roger II, Constance of Hauteville, Henry VI of Swabia, Frederick II and Constance of Aragon. Four sarcophagi are placed in corresponding areas of the chapel, with those of Roger II and Constance of Hauteville in the background, and the funerary monuments of Frederick II and Henry VI in the foreground. Frederick II’s first wife, Constance of Aragon rests in a late antique white marble sarcophagus, decorated with an exciting hunting scene, set into the right wall of the Chapel of the Royal Tombs.
The sarcophagi, used as burial places by Roger II, Constance of Hauteville, Henry VI and Frederick II, were carved using elements of red porphyry, a symbol of royalty and power. Used by the Egyptians and during the Ptolemaic dynasty, after the conquest of Egypt by Augustus, porphyry also became a prerogative of the emperor in Rome. Difficult to work with due to its durability, porphyry continued to be used in the Middle Ages, where it embodied the colour of power.
Tourists from all nations, history buffs, the merely curious and schoolchildren are never at a loss in the Chapel of the Royal Tombs inside the Cathedral. Visiting the great rulers of the past means getting in touch with the past, reconstructing their history and exploits. An experience that is certainly unique and that is possible in Palermo. Perhaps this is why there are always fragrant red roses on the tomb of Frederick II, the emperor known as Stupor Mundi.