Arab-Norman Palermo and the cathedrals of Monreale and Cefalu

Arab-Norman Palermo and the cathedrals of Monreale and Cefalu

Palermo PA, Italy

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He thrives on historical courses and resorts. If you think the idea of cultural melting pot is very recent i 9 Sicilian sites they will soon make you change your mind. Distributed among the cities of Palermo, Cefalu and Monreale, the sites originally in Arabic style will be reinterpreted and reworked by the Normans during their settlement in Sicily in XII century. The shape cupola, the pomp, attention to the natural component (fountains and gardens) They are imbued with the volumetric style, spatial and Byzantine decoration in a unique mix that leaves you speechless. The royal palace of Palermo in full Norman style, joins the church of San Giovanni degli Eremiti with its three domes to then meet in the Martorana Church, in Cefalù cathedral e the one of Monreale, where the great Norman structures adopt golden domes and trim adorning the large height spaces with beautiful mosaics religious theme. The site of the Arab-Norman Palermo and the Cathedrals of Cefalù and Monreale includes two palaces, three cathedrals, four churches and a bridge. It is works "of sublime artistic value and extraordinary unity" of the twelfth century made during the Norman domination with the artistic collaboration of Arab workers. This interaction and coexistence "has generated an original architectural and artistic style of outstanding universal value".

UNESCO award criteria of Arab-Norman Palermo and the cathedrals of Cefalù and Monreale

The World Heritage Committee in 2015 decided to enter the site "Arab-Norman Palermo and the Cathedrals of Cefalù and Monreale" in World Heritage List of Humanity based on the following criteria:
  • (ii) that site testifies to a particular political and cultural condition characterized by the fruitful coexistence of people of various origins (Muslim, Byzantines, Latini, Hebrews, Lombardi and French), generating a conscious unique combination of elements derived from the architectural and artistic techniques of the Byzantine traditions, Islamic and Western;
  • (iv) the site represents in an exemplary way a stylistic synthesis that, reworking in an innovative way and consistent elements belonging to different cultures, He has given rise to new concepts of space, constructive and decorative.

History, art and culture

The site of the Arab-Norman Palermo and the Cathedral of Cefalù and Monreale consists of the Palermo Cathedral, the Royal Palace or Norman, the Palatine Chapel, from the Church of St. John of the Hermits, from the Church of San Cataldo, the Martorana church, from Zisa Castle, from the Bridge and the cathedrals of Monreale and Cefalu. A special kind of art, unknown elsewhere, as he wrote Guy de Maupassant in 1885, that captivates our visitors for centuries.


Royal Palace The Palazzo (XI-XII sec.) it hosts the famous one inside Hall of King Roger, first king of Sicily, rich in fine decorations, He took his son William I: prestigious mosaics depicting flora, fauna, hunting scenes, Representatives of the Genoardo Park, and mythological creatures. The symbolic representation of the animals recalls theByzantine iconography. Frederick II of Swabia organized the administrative and cultural activities there with the meetings of the "Sicilian Poetic School”. The Palatine Chapel Defined in 1885 da Guy de Maupassant "The most beautiful church in the world, the most surprising religious jewel dreamed of by human thought”, the Church hosts exquisite inside Byzantine mosaics, cosmateschi floors and beautiful carved ceilings, made by the Fatimid school teachers. In the apse the Christ Pantocrator dominates the chapel: as the holder of the double divine and human nature wears the gold tunic, symbol of divinity, and the blue mantle, symbol of humanity. According to some theorists with his right hand blesses, while others intimate silence with the characteristic Byzantine gesture (thumb and annular united). Cathedral Founded around 1184, the Cathedral it stands where the Muslims had built a mosque. The first column to the left of the Gothic-Catalan portico bears a carvedinscription taken from the Koran. The Cathedral houses the royal tombs of Roger II, the great Norman king who founded the kingdom of Sicily in 1130, Emperor Frederick II, Henry VI, Constance of Hauteville and Constance II of Aragon, whose corona is one of the most important pieces of the "Treasury of the cathedral”. The Chapel dedicated to Santa Rosalia, patroness of the City, houses an urn containing the relics of the "Santuzza”. St. John of the Hermits Erected between 1130 and the 1148 by the will of Roger II, this convent complex was designed according to i Islamic-Byzantine canons weather: geometric parallelograms representing Earth, surmounted by cupolas representing Heaven. Of the original complex remains the Church, the cloister e few remains of Monastery. The exterior is very lively because of 5 domes covered with plaster reddish. A center of Benedictine life was the cloister which still survives in all its elegance: an oasis of peace in the heart of bustling Palermo. San Cataldo It was built between 1154 and the 1160 gives Majone of Bari, Grand Admiral and Chancellor of William I. The church has three naves. the middle, double compared to lateral breadth, It is separated from the latter by columns of perusal and is covered by hemispherical domes visible estradossate from 'outside for their red. The church belongs to the 1937 in the order of Knights of the Holy Sepulcher of Jerusalem. Santa Maria of the Admiral or Martorana Defined in 1184 by Ibn Jubair “The most beautiful monument in the world”, St. Mary's was built in 1145 gives George of Antioch, Admiral of Roger II. Among the magnificent Byzantine mosaics with a gold background that cover the entire church, stand the mosaic icon Giorgio D'Antioch, represented before the Virgin, and on the opposite side of the mosaic of Roger II, dressed like a Byzantine emperor, Head slightly bowed while being crowned by Christ directly. Depicted on the throne at the summit dome is Christ Pantocrator. Admiral Bridge Built in 1132 about is considered one of the greatest medieval engineering works in the Mediterranean area as well as the oldest stone bridge built after the fall of the Western Roman Empire. The General G. Garibaldi (1860), during the expedition of the Thousand, Here he met a strong resistance on the part of his troops but managed to pass and enter the city victorious. La Zisa From the Arabic al-Aziz, “the glorious”, “the splendid”, the Castle was wanted by re Guglielmo I, but it was completed in the reign of William II in 1190 circa. Fu summer residence of the kings. At the center of the ground floor is the representative area o "fountain room", the heart of the building's nerve. The whole room is adorned with decorative mosaics and marble inlays in opus sectile, large vaulted niches with muqarnas and a rare Byzantine mosaic panel with secular themes and iconography Islamic.


Cathedral of Monreale The simplicity of its facade does not prepare visitors for splendor of its interior. Walk through its doors you are immersed in one of the greatest mosaic cycles of the medieval world: over six thousand square meters they tell 130 of stories from the Old and New Testament in a merger of Eastern influences and Westerners. Nell 'central apse emerge Christ Pantocrator and the Virgin and Child with Angels and Saints. The cloister attached to the cathedral represents a extraordinary example of medieval architecture and recalls the arcaded courtyards of the rich Islamic residences.


Cathedral of Cefalu He was wanted in 1131 gives Roger King of Sicily to make it his own mausoleum: the sovereign's tomb, however, today is located in the cathedral of Palermo The interior has three naves marked by sixteen granite columns supporting pointed arches with double ferrules. I mosaics were made by Byzantine workers. In the central apse there is the figure of Christ Pantocrator blessing while the lower band are depicted the Virgin and four Arcangeli. Attached to the Duomo is the cloister of the XII century.


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