Cefalù Cathedral
the chystro

The stone bible

The double columns of the Cefalù Cathedral cloister are characterised by the presence of preciously decorated twin capitals, an example of Romanesque sculpture with an international air. The thirty-three pairs of historiated capitals, carved in a single block, present a sculptural apparatus with different iconography: narrative or figurative, with animals and with plants. The capitals contain scenes from the Bible, decorations with animals, such as monkeys, deer, eagles and fantastic animals (winged griffins), as well as human figures such as the six acrobats or the rulers with roosters. The capital with the scene of Noah’s Ark stands out among them all. The capital tells the whole story of the Great Flood with several scenes carved on it: God talking to Noah, the construction of the Ark, the entrance of the animals, the arrival of men on the ark, the beginning of the flood, Noah trying to send the raven out of the Ark, the dove returning with the olive branch and the exit from the Ark after the flood.

From the beginning,, there must have been a cloistered space connected to the Augustinian convent for the monks, who waited for the construction of the one intended for the canons of the Cathedral.
However, history events postponed its construction for many years. At this point, the real period in which the cloister was constructed remains open for debate.
The cloister was built using poor and shoddy materials in the original masonry structures which still exist today, at least for the southern aisle, which are not similar in consistency and constructional refinement to the stone elements of Roger’s building.
Historians and scholars can agree on only one thing: the dating of the precious capitals .
They were certainly made by medieval craftsmen, but it is indisputable that the capitals were made by master stonemasons at the same time as the master bricklayers were constructing the building, according to medieval tradition, to be used when placed on site.
The capitals, still visible today along the aisles of the cloister, were relocated by those who built the current cloister. However, they placed them in non-canonical positions with respect to what must have been their original position, which followed the circular path of the aisles in an anti-clockwise direction. It started from the transept door and returned to it in processional form, telling the monks, in their allegorical narrations, the Story of Salvation.

The chystro: a place between earth and sky

The cemetery of kings

Layers of different cultures decorate the external apses

Gardens and architecture as a backdrop to the city of Palermo

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

A mixture of styles pervades the floor decorations

Cefalù: settlement evidence through time

The chapel of St. Benedict

Under the crosses of the Bema

Beyond the harmony of proportions

The longest aisle

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

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

The southern portico

The liturgical spaces of the protesis and the diaconicon

Artistic elements in Peter’s ship

The senses tell Context 1

A palimpsest of history

Porphyry sarcophagi: royalty and power

The Cathedral over the centuries

The Bible carved in stone

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

The transformations of the hall through the centuries

The Gualtiero Cathedral

The king’s mark

A Northern population

A new Cathedral

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

The rediscovered chapel

A tree full of life

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

The cultural substrate through time

The towers facing the facade used as bell towers

A cloister of accentuated stylistic variety

The original design

A space between the visible and the invisible

From the Mosque to the Cathedral

The construction of Monreale Cathedral: between myth and history

The mosaics of the presbytery

A polysemy of high-level artistic forms and content

The medieval city amidst monasticism and feudal aristocracy

Survey of the royal tombs

The Great Presbytery: a unique space for the cathedral

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

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

The balance between architecture and light

A chapel by an unknown designer based on repeated symmetries

The Chapel of St. Mary Magdalene

Squaring the circle

The decorated facade

The dialogue between the architectures of the monumental complex

A remarkable ceiling

Interior decorations

The lost chapel

Transformations over the centuries

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

Norman religious architecture with islamic influences in Sicily

The side aisles

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

The Chapel of the Kings

The chorus: beating heart of the cathedral

The chapel of san Castrense: an important renaissance work

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

Worship services

The towers and the western facade

The area of the Sanctuary

The stone bible

The mosaics of the apses

The Kings’ Cathedrals

Roger II’s strategic design

Roger II of hauteville: a sovereign protected by God

Palermo: the happiest city

Characteristics of religious architecture in the romanesque period

The Virgin Hodegetria

Two initially similar towers, varied over time

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

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

A controversial interpretation

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

Ecclesia munita

Mosaic decoration

The Great Restoration

The beginning of the construction site