Monreale Cathedral - History and Facts | History Hit

Monreale Cathedral

Monreale, Sicily, Italy

Monreale Cathedral is a twelfth century church near Palermo and an excellent example of Norman architecture.

Antara Bate

24 Nov 2020
Image Credit: Shutterstock

About Monreale Cathedral

Monreale Cathedral (Duomo Monreale) in Sicily is a fine example of Norman architecture. Constructed from 1172 under King William II and completed a few years later, Monreale Cathedral certainly met this monarch’s desire to create a magnificent church to rival any other, particularly that of Palatine.

Monreale Cathedral history

The cathedral was built by William II after the English archbishop of Palermo sought, with the solid backing of the Pope, to assert his authority over the king by refusing to honour his father’s wishes to be buried at Cefalù, instead interring him at Palermo Cathedral. William II immediately set about building a bigger and more artistically inspired cathedral, appointing his own archbishop, and making his cathedral the royal pantheon.

Every detail of Monreale Cathedral was carefully designed and even the columns of its cloisters are adorned with incredibly elaborate carvings. Norman symbols can be found throughout, including many depictions of griffins and lions.

The cathedral in Monreale, Palermo, is regarded as the most beautiful of the Norman churches in Sicily. The mosaics were made with 2200 kg of pure gold, experts have estimated. Craftsmen from Constantinople were employed to expedite the work. The Byzantine mosaics are among the most magnificent in the world.

Monreale Cathedral today

The wealth of 12th century mosaics is the star attraction of Monreale Cathedral. Considered to be some of the best preserved of their kind, the mosaics of Monreale Cathedral show various scenes from the Old and New Testament.

Within the grouping of Arab-Norman Palermo and the Cathedral Churches of Cefalú and Monreale, the cathedral is listed as a UNESCO World Heritage site.

Getting to Monreale Cathedral

Public transport in the area can be unreliable. To get to Monreale from Palermo, visitors can take the 389 bus or the AST bus. Alternatively, visitors can take a taxi or choose to rent a car.

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