Monreale (Sicily): what to see


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What to see in Monreale, a pretty town located a few kilometers from Palermo, an itinerary including the grandiose examples of Norman art present, including the famous Cathedral.


Tourist information

The Cathedral of Monreale, whose construction was commissioned by William II and whose work began in 1174, still retains its ancient splendor intact.

On the façade, the relevant eighteenth-century portico with a three-arched scheme, surmounted by a balustrade and between two square towers, shows off.


The ogive portal has bronze knockers, attributed to Bonanno Pisano, which show biblical scenes in relief.

The interior shows the visitor a show of undoubted beauty, majestic and evocative at the same time, with walls covered almost entirely by wonderful mosaics, with ceilings where the exposed beams are all painted, with porphyry and granite floors.

The mosaics constitute the largest mosaic figuration existing in Italy and the largest in the world after the Church of Santa Sofia in Constantinople, which covers an area of ​​over 6400 square meters, more than two thousand meters higher than that of the Basilica of San Marco in Venice , inserted in the monumental body of a temple that is classified as a unique art jewel in the world, immersed in an enchanting setting of amazing natural beauty.


What see

Each area of ​​the temple is decorated with figurations and artistic motifs, immersed in a golden background characterized by a particular brightness, which are divided into 130 paintings narrating the divine will for universal salvation.

The series of paintings begins with the representation of the history of Creation and that of the Patriarchs Noah, Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.

In the walls of the central nave, separated into 42 panels, the artists of the time portrayed episodes from the Old Testament, starting with the creation of the world as described in the book of Genesis.


In the basin of the central apse is the effigy of the Pantokrator, or the Almighty, derived from that of Cefalù.

Of great value are also the high altar in silver and bronze, the work of Valandier, the treasure including relics in large numbers, and, in the chapel of San Benedetto, a Glory of San Benedetto, a 1776 work by Ignazio Marabitti.

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From the terraces of the Cathedral, which can be accessed from a door located at the beginning of the right nave, you can admire the entire Conca d'Oro.

On the right of the Duomo is the 12th century cloister, consisting of a square with sides 47 meters long and a portico delimited by arches supported by 228 columns variously decorated and carved with reliefs.

Palermo, Sicily: Monreale Cathedral - Rick Steves’ Europe Travel Guide - Travel Bite (August 2022)


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