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

Andrew Quesada (28 days ago)
Cathedral is AMAZING especially the zodiac signs in the middle lit up on the day the zodiac sign begins by the sun through a hole in the ceiling..... Amazing how they did that.... Don't miss the verse from the Koran on the pillar outside when it was a Mosque before it became the Cathedral.... Lots of history here....
Matt H (45 days ago)
Stunning cathedral. It’s very touristy but a must see. Try early morning. Before the tourist groups. And before the school groups too. It’s well worth the effort. Amazing chapels and awe inspiring interior. That being said the exterior is certainly worth taking your time to walk around and to admire. Just as much as inside. A great visit
Joanna Louise (2 months ago)
A beautiful Cathedral that is well worth the visit. I would also suggest paying the €7 per person to climb to the top to that you can see closer details of the construction and a beautiful view of Palermo / Sicily. The stairs are quite steep and narrow to the top (narrow winding staircase) but it can be done. We saw an 80 year old lady climb to the top with the help of her family and staff members.
Bill Dean (2 months ago)
Stumbled on this landmark on the way to the Castle. Amazing views from the multiple roof lines you walk. Just inside and to the left you can purchase tickets for the various parts of the cathedral. We went through the museum side first, then back inside and to the right to go on the roof. There were a lot of winding steps to get to the top level and then go all the way to the ground level but it's so worth it. Definitely worth the hour.
Walter Basile (2 months ago)
Palermo Cathedral is an architectural marvel that truly embodies the rich history and cultural heritage of Sicily. Stepping inside this magnificent structure, you're immediately struck by its grandeur and beauty. The cathedral's intricate design features a blend of architectural styles, reflecting the diverse influences that have shaped Sicilian history over the centuries. From the stunning mosaics adorning its walls to the majestic columns and vaulted ceilings, every detail exudes a sense of reverence and awe. Beyond its architectural splendor, Palermo Cathedral is also a spiritual sanctuary, offering visitors a place for quiet reflection and contemplation.
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