Palermo Cathedral - History and Facts | History Hit

Palermo Cathedral

Palermo, Sicily, Italy

Palermo Cathedral dates back to Norman times and was the site of coronations and royal burials.

Antara Bate

24 Nov 2020
Image Credit: Valery Bareta /

About Palermo Cathedral

Palermo Cathedral (Cattedrale di Palermo) was founded in 1184, but has since been added to over the centuries. As such, it boasts a rich mix of architectural styles ranging from Norman to Gothic and Catalan.

Palermo Cathedral history

Palermo Cathedral features a mix of different architectural styles, due to a long history of additions, alterations and restorations. It was built by Walter Ophamil (aka Gualtiero Offamiglio and Walter of the Mill), the Anglo-Norman archbishop of Palermo and King William II’s minister.

The archbishop’s main aim was to surpass the glory of the magnificent cathedral of nearby Monreale, and the Palermo Duomo became an architectural battleground for “The Battle of the Two Cathedrals.”

Befitting the fact that it was originally built over the site of a mosque (which itself had been a church beforehand), Palermo Cathedral also has hints of Islamic influences.

The Cathedral has an illustrious history which includes being the site of royal coronations. Furthermore, inside Palermo Cathedral are buried the former emperors and monarchs of Sicily, amongst them Emperors Henry VI, Frederick II and Sicily’s first king, Roger II.

Palermo Cathedral today

Pieces from the tomb of Constance of Aragon, who is also buried at Palermo Cathedral, can be found in the treasury.

Among the items to see are several tombs of the original Norman Kings of Sicily, most of them brought here from other churches in the 18th century.
The baroque paintings on the ceiling will also attract vistors’ attention – these replaced the original wooden ceiling during the over-enthusiastic 18th century renovations – and you can visit the treasury to see items of clothing worn during important historical ceremonies.

It is also possible to visit the roof of the cathedral which has lovely views of the square below and the roofs of Palermo.

Getting to Palermo Cathedral

Monreale is located a few kilometres from the centre of Palermo. Public transport can be unreliable. Many visitors choose to rent a car, other transportation options include taking a taxi or the AST and AMAT 389 bus routes.

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