Palermo Cathedral

Palermo, Italy

Palermo Cathedral was erected in 1185 by Walter Ophamil (or Walter of the Mill), the Anglo-Norman archbishop of Palermo and King William II's minister, on the area of an earlier Byzantine basilica. By all accounts this earlier church was founded by Pope Gregory I and was later turned into a mosque by the Saracens after their conquest of the city in the 9th century. Ophamil is buried in a sarcophagus in the church's crypt. The medieval edifice had a basilica plan with three apses, of which only some minor architectural elements survive today.

The upper orders of the corner towers were built between the 14th and the 15th centuries, while in the early Renaissance period the southern porch was added. The present neoclassical appearance dates from the work carried out over the two decades 1781 to 1801, supervised by Ferdinando Fuga and Giuseppe Venanzio Marvuglia. During this period the great retable by Gagini, decorated with statues, friezes and reliefs, was destroyed and the sculptures moved to different parts of the basilica. Also by Fuga are the great dome emerging from the main body of the building, and the smaller domes covering the aisles' ceilings.

In the right aisle, in the first and second chapel communicating with one another, are the monumental tombs of King Roger II, his daughter Queen Constance I of Sicily, her husband Emperor Henry VI, and their son Emperor Frederick II, as well as the burials of Frederick's first wife Constance of Aragon and his great-great-grandson William II, Duke of Athens on the side walls. 

Palermo Cathedral is part of the UNESCO World Heritage Site of Arab-Norman Palermo and the Cathedral Churches of Cefalú and Monreale.




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Founded: 1185
Category: Religious sites in Italy


4.7/5 (based on Google user reviews)

User Reviews

Easy Touring (10 months ago)
I've never have seen so may a different traces from diverse civilizations in just one building! A historical witness still standing on the city centre, example of important mediterranean cultures that settled in the island over the course of centuries... needless to say about the rich architectural details. I must-see in South Europe without a doubt
Ognyan Ivanov (10 months ago)
An amazing place from outside and from inside. Beautiful architecture with many sculptures and so many details. Also the yard is surrounded by sculptures of Saints. Inside the cathedral also many sculptures and fabulous pictures! Strongly recommended and an absolute must-see!
Arthit Yodyunyong (10 months ago)
Fantastic! I couldn't remember much about my visit in Palermo long time ago but when I saw this incredibly marvellous Cathedral my memory was coming back. Nowadays you can also visit the rooftop with the wonderful panoramic view of Palermo and the staffs were very helpful. I noticed there were many italian visitors in the night. There must be something special about that. The Cathedral even has a toilet inside. It's well hidden behind the altar in the side chapel. There was no sign and you have to get inside really close to the altar to see it.
Marko Cvetkovic (10 months ago)
For me the most particular and the most fascinating cathedral in Sicily. From outside it looks great with the park in front. Inside you can find the history treasures and climb on top. The view on top is nothing special, so I suggest only the treasures ticket.
Andreea Arion (11 months ago)
It might be nice if they cleaned and renovated it and the square it's in, but like everything else in the city it's falling apart and the city won't renovate anything. Lining it's pockets, no doubt.
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