Palermo Cathedral
the Portico and the Floor

The senses tell the Portico and the Floor

The faithful gather on the floor

On the southern façade of the Cathedral, the faithful gather in front of the entrance to the church, in the large outdoor area.
They gather under the marvellous Catalan Gothic portico, the work of Magister Antonio Gambara, and prepare to attend religious services. People from all walks of life are present, flocking to give thanks and praise to the Assumption of Mary, to whom the Cathedral is dedicated. Before crossing the threshold, they talk to each other while the tolling of the bells announcing the imminent celebration spreads from the bell tower to the floor and all the surrounding streets.

A tree full of life

In the flat area of the portico façade, between the arched sixths and the band above, which is ordered with the theory of the saints, a series of spirals comes to life, with figures of various kinds. The eyes of the beholder are filled with wonder: a fascinating tree of life appears, almost as if by magic. The intertwining of the tree’s spiral structure starts with a female figure. The woman holds branches in her hands, winding from the left to the right and containing mythical figures from medieval bestiaries.

A Catalan Gothic portico

One can still admire the skill with which Antonio Gambara created the portico, in 1429, using reused materials. The stone’s durability was moulded by the skilful hands of the Magister, who envisaged a work of art in the Catalan Gothic style. Entrance is gained through three pointed arches resting on reused columns with capitals decorated with plant motifs. The three arches are decorated with a twisted frame.

A new Cathedral

Characteristics of religious architecture in the romanesque period

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

The beginning of the construction site

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

A palimpsest of history

Survey of the royal tombs

Layers of different cultures decorate the external apses

A space between the visible and the invisible

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

The Gualtiero Cathedral

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

The senses tell Context 1

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

A tree full of life

A remarkable ceiling

Beyond the harmony of proportions

A controversial interpretation

The transformations of the hall through the centuries

The Cathedral over the centuries

From the Mosque to the Cathedral

The decorated facade

Transformations over the centuries

Two initially similar towers, varied over time

The cemetery of kings

The longest aisle

The mosaics of the apses

The mosaics of the presbytery

Palermo: the happiest city

The Great Restoration

The chorus: beating heart of the cathedral

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

The rediscovered chapel

The king’s mark

The medieval city amidst monasticism and feudal aristocracy

The dialogue between the architectures of the monumental complex

Under the crosses of the Bema

The Chapel of St. Mary Magdalene

A mixture of styles pervades the floor decorations

Roger II of hauteville: a sovereign protected by God

The chapel of St. Benedict

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

The liturgical spaces of the protesis and the diaconicon

A cloister of accentuated stylistic variety

Roger II’s strategic design

The lost chapel

Mosaic decoration

The chystro: a place between earth and sky

The Kings’ Cathedrals

A chapel by an unknown designer based on repeated symmetries

A polysemy of high-level artistic forms and content

Interior decorations

The Bible carved in stone

Ecclesia munita

The balance between architecture and light

Porphyry sarcophagi: royalty and power

The construction of Monreale Cathedral: between myth and history

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

Norman religious architecture with islamic influences in Sicily

The stone bible

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

Gardens and architecture as a backdrop to the city of Palermo

Artistic elements in Peter’s ship

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

Cefalù: settlement evidence through time

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

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

Squaring the circle

The Great Presbytery: a unique space for the cathedral

Worship services

A Northern population

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

The Virgin Hodegetria

The cultural substrate through time

The original design

The towers facing the facade used as bell towers

The towers and the western facade

The southern portico

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 the Kings

The side aisles

The chapel of san Castrense: an important renaissance work