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.

The stone bible

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

The rediscovered chapel

Interior decorations

The king’s mark

The original design

The Chapel of the Kings

Under the crosses of the Bema

The mosaics of the presbytery

From the Mosque to the Cathedral

The cultural substrate through time

The towers and the western facade

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

The chorus: beating heart of the cathedral

Gardens and architecture as a backdrop to the city of Palermo

The southern portico

The dialogue between the architectures of the monumental complex

A polysemy of high-level artistic forms and content

The balance between architecture and light

Characteristics of religious architecture in the romanesque period

Porphyry sarcophagi: royalty and power

A chapel by an unknown designer based on repeated symmetries

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

The Great Restoration

Palermo: the happiest city

The Chapel of St. Mary Magdalene

A new Cathedral

Artistic elements in Peter’s ship

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

The medieval city amidst monasticism and feudal aristocracy

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

The side aisles

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

Ecclesia munita

The area of the Sanctuary

The decorated facade

The chystro: a place between earth and sky

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

A tree full of life

Roger II’s strategic design

The Bible carved in stone

A palimpsest of history

Mosaic decoration

Two initially similar towers, varied over time

Worship services

A remarkable ceiling

Roger II of hauteville: a sovereign protected by God

The transformations of the hall through the centuries

A mixture of styles pervades the floor decorations

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

A cloister of accentuated stylistic variety

The senses tell Context 1

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

Cefalù: settlement evidence through time

The cemetery of kings

The liturgical spaces of the protesis and the diaconicon

The Cathedral over the centuries

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

The mosaics of the apses

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

The Kings’ Cathedrals

A Northern population

The construction of Monreale Cathedral: between myth and history

Transformations over the centuries

The longest aisle

The lost chapel

The Gualtiero Cathedral

The Great Presbytery: a unique space for the cathedral

The chapel of san Castrense: an important renaissance work

The beginning of the construction site

Squaring the circle

A controversial interpretation

The towers facing the facade used as bell towers

A space between the visible and the invisible

The chapel of St. Benedict

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

Layers of different cultures decorate the external apses

Survey of the royal tombs

The Virgin Hodegetria

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

Norman religious architecture with islamic influences in Sicily

Beyond the harmony of proportions

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