Monreale Cathedral
the cathedral's exterior

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

We turn our attention towards the northern entrance, which immediately appears smaller and less plastic than the main one. Evidence of its existence has reached us through the provisions of the Royal Visitor Monsignor Francesco Vento who, in 1542, ordered its reconstruction due to the visible state of decay of the portico.
We have no information about its original structure over the centuries, so we focus our attention on a date, 1547, presumably the year the portico was built at the behest of Archbishop Cardinal Alessandro Farnese according to Biagio Timpanella ’s design.The frontispiece and the eleven arches were made between 1547 and 1562 by Giovanni and Fazio Gagini . They were supported by twelve slender columns with no entasis , supporting capitals similar to the Corinthian order but without the corner volutes.
The visual unity, distinguished by the lightness of the decorative elements that delimit the exterior of the loggia, is interrupted only by the columns of the central arch, on which the softer colour of the stone and the presence of composite capitals stand out, as if to invite the faithful to enter the heart of the Temple. There are numerous references to Alessandro Farnese, starting with the marble coat of arms, visible above the central arch, made by Vincenzo Gagini , up to those individually placed inside the portico on each minor side.The architecture, which has intrinsic and harmonious proportions, occupying the area between the bell tower to the west and the transept to the east, was described by Lello , in a period referable to the last years of the 16th century.
The portico’s characteristic elements do not set it alongside the classic stylistic canons of the Renaissance , from which it is distinguished by the presence of references to the Spanish cultural influences that permeated the architecture of Palermo in the late 15th and early 16th centuries. Less pronounced and plastic than the monumental work by Bonanno Pisano placed in the main portal is the bronze door, made shortly after 1186 by Barisano da Trani and decorated with twenty-eight panels in rectangular fields with embossed chiselled surfaces.The diffusion of this artistic technique, also found in other religious buildings in southern Italy , can be traced back to the Roman tradition of the Imperial age and then to Byzantine times.


From the Mosque to the Cathedral

Transformations over the centuries

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

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

The medieval city amidst monasticism and feudal aristocracy

The chapel of St. Benedict

The Kings’ Cathedrals

The Great Restoration

Mosaic decoration

Norman religious architecture with islamic influences in Sicily

Two initially similar towers, varied over time

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

Porphyry sarcophagi: royalty and power

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

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

A chapel by an unknown designer based on repeated symmetries

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

The construction of Monreale Cathedral: between myth and history

A controversial interpretation

Palermo: the happiest city

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

A cloister of accentuated stylistic variety

The Chapel of the Kings

The mosaics of the apses

A new Cathedral

The Gualtiero Cathedral

The decorated facade

A tree full of life

The longest aisle

Roger II of hauteville: a sovereign protected by God

The transformations of the hall through the centuries

Under the crosses of the Bema

The area of the Sanctuary

The Great Presbytery: a unique space for the cathedral

The chorus: beating heart of the cathedral

The towers and the western facade

The dialogue between the architectures of the monumental complex

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

Squaring the circle

Ecclesia munita

The Chapel of St. Mary Magdalene

A space between the visible and the invisible

A Northern population

The senses tell Context 1

The towers facing the facade used as bell towers

The original design

Artistic elements in Peter’s ship

Beyond the harmony of proportions

A palimpsest of history

Worship services

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

A polysemy of high-level artistic forms and content

The liturgical spaces of the protesis and the diaconicon

Gardens and architecture as a backdrop to the city of Palermo

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

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

A remarkable ceiling

The Cathedral over the centuries

Interior decorations

Characteristics of religious architecture in the romanesque period

The side aisles

Cefalù: settlement evidence through time

The balance between architecture and light

The stone bible

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

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

The southern portico

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

Survey of the royal tombs

The cemetery of kings

The lost chapel

The chapel of san Castrense: an important renaissance work

The king’s mark

A mixture of styles pervades the floor decorations

Roger II’s strategic design

The Bible carved in stone

The beginning of the construction site

The chystro: a place between earth and sky

Layers of different cultures decorate the external apses

The Virgin Hodegetria

The rediscovered chapel

The cultural substrate through time

The mosaics of the presbytery