Cefalù Cathedral
the chystro

The stone bible

NOAH'S ARK CLOISTER CAPITAL
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 cultural substrate through time

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

Artistic elements in Peter’s ship

Beyond the harmony of proportions

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

The Chapel of the Kings

The Gualtiero Cathedral

The towers and the western facade

Roger II’s strategic design

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

The side aisles

The medieval city amidst monasticism and feudal aristocracy

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

From the Mosque to the Cathedral

Porphyry sarcophagi: royalty and power

The towers facing the facade used as bell towers

The area of the Sanctuary

Cefalù: settlement evidence through time

Under the crosses of the Bema

A new Cathedral

The Kings’ Cathedrals

Characteristics of religious architecture in the romanesque period

Survey of the royal tombs

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

The senses tell Context 1

The chystro: a place between earth and sky

Gardens and architecture as a backdrop to the city of Palermo

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

The rediscovered chapel

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

The decorated facade

Worship services

The chapel of St. Benedict

A tree full of life

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

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

Ecclesia munita

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

Mosaic decoration

The southern portico

A chapel by an unknown designer based on repeated symmetries

The original design

The Great Restoration

The cemetery of kings

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

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

The dialogue between the architectures of the monumental complex

The beginning of the construction site

A controversial interpretation

The Great Presbytery: a unique space for the cathedral

The chapel of san Castrense: an important renaissance work

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

The longest aisle

Norman religious architecture with islamic influences in Sicily

The mosaics of the presbytery

The stone bible

The chorus: beating heart of the cathedral

The king’s mark

A palimpsest of history

Transformations over the centuries

A space between the visible and the invisible

The Virgin Hodegetria

The mosaics of the apses

The lost chapel

The balance between architecture and light

A polysemy of high-level artistic forms and content

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

A remarkable ceiling

The Chapel of St. Mary Magdalene

The transformations of the hall through the centuries

A Northern population

The liturgical spaces of the protesis and the diaconicon

Squaring the circle

The Bible carved in stone

The Cathedral over the centuries

A mixture of styles pervades the floor decorations

Roger II of hauteville: a sovereign protected by God

Two initially similar towers, varied over time

Layers of different cultures decorate the external apses

The construction of Monreale Cathedral: between myth and history

Palermo: the happiest city

Interior decorations

A cloister of accentuated stylistic variety