Cathedral of Monreale

The Cathedral of Monreale, Palermo© Urban / Wikimedia Commons [CC BY-SA 3.0]

Duomo Santa Maria Nuova di Monreale

Atop the 300 metre tall Monte Reale near Palermo, also known as the “Royal Mountain”, is the imposing Duomo Santa Maria Nuova di Monreale. The cathedral is the heart of the little village of Monreale, which is known for it orange, olive and almond trees. It is the largest church in Sicily. Construction on the church took place between 1172 and 1176. Architecturally the cathedral has been shaped by Arabic-Norman and Roman influences and is a particularly impressive example of the architectural style that dominated in Sicily at the time, whereby Arabic, Byzantine and Norman elements come together in an architectural symbiosis.

Inside the cathedral, the golden magnificence of the Byzantine mosaics stun guests and depict one of the most fully preserved illustrated bibles of the middle ages, created between 1179 and 1182 and covering a surface area of 6340m². Important events from the life of Jesus and the patriarchs Noah, Abraham, Isaac and Jacob are depicted. The dominant mosaic in the centre, which is 7 metres high and 13.30 metres wide, shows an impressive portrait of Jesus with a seated Virgin and Child below.

The cathedral’s magnificent cloister, completed about 1200, is also worth a visit and makes up the only remains of the former Benedictine monastery on the site. It is 2200 m2 and the column capitals are a symbolic representation of Christianity and Islam harmoniously existing side-by-side. The 216 marble columns are all carved uniquely and no two are alike.

The cathedral is a national monument of Italy and one of the most popular sights in Sicily.

Cathedral of Monreale
Piazza Guglielmo II, 1
Monreale Palermo
Sicily, Italy

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