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

martina (8 months ago)
Very nice but did not pay the roof or tombs as i do not know if they are worth the price. Kinda regret not going to the roof now lol. Very beautiful place regardless
András Lux (10 months ago)
Nice cathedral, not overdecorated combining different styles from different centuries. Not that special compared to others around Europe or the chapel in the palace. There is an option to visit the treasury, crypts and rooftop for 12€ - treasury is OK, crypts are OK, really the best part of the entire visit is rooftop and the view from there.
Mr. O (10 months ago)
Impressive building and gorgeously decorated inside. Highly recommend to walk there without rush to feel the atmosphere and spirit of this place. If you get to climb to the roof, you'll get the chance to enjoy he most beautiful view in the city.
Nicolaie Florin (10 months ago)
It was nice. For 12€ you are able to go on the roof of the cathedral and see the whole city. Inside you have some nice baroc but not to rich, or at least not as rich as in the Jesuit church. If you come to Palermo you need to see the Jesuit church.
Andreas Appel (10 months ago)
Very beautiful on the inside and there is no need to spend money but you can if you want more access. But you should not turn around because in any other direction you can see that you are in the middle of a poor city. The beggars are very aggressive throughout Palermo and also here they were sitting directly in the entrance to the cathedral. The 4/5 year old kid of a female beggar had a sh*t right next to the entrance at the outer wall…
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