Palermo - Monreale

25 May 1999


The last cathedral on our schedule for this day just had to be located at the top of a huge staircase. The story of Monreale is deeply rooted in the politics of the time in which it was built. Apparently King William II had been given some religious title that elevated him above the archbishop (who controlled the Palatine Chapel). This caused just a bit of a rivalry between them. William II then had a "vision" of the virgin Mary telling him to build a cathedral at Monreale. The massive structure was completed in record time, although the left tower was never finished. Above are two exterior views of the cathedral, with the unfinished tower visible. Also shown is one of the many horse-drawn carts available for rides that we encountered on our trip.


The interior of this cathedral is really amazing. Although none of my pictures that show this came out well, the place is just huge. Also not shown are the large pillars that were imported (stolen) from Africa to save time in construction. As a result, the columns are not all the same. After seeing so many cathedrals in one day, the influences of the Palatine Chapel and the cathedral at Cefalu were very obvious, especially the Arabic designs on the lower portions of the walls and the ceiling (shown in the last picture), which closely resembles the ceiling of the cathedral at Cefalu. Many of the mosaics show evidence of the conflict between the king and the archbishop. The interior also houses two sarcophogi, shown in the middle picture above.

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