Cathedral of Monreale

Monreale, Italy

The Cathedral of Monreale is one of the greatest existent examples of Norman architecture. The construction of Monreale, started in 1172, was approved by Pope Alexander III with a bull on 30 December 1174. Works, including an annexed abbey, were completed only in 1267 and the church consecrated at the presence of Pope Clement IV. In 1178 Pope Lucius III established the archdiocese of Monreale and the abbey church was elevated to the rank of cathedral. The archbishops obtained by the kings of Sicily a wide array of privileges and lands in the whole Italian peninsula. In 1270 Louis IX, King of France, brother of King Charles I of Naples, was buried here.

In 1547-1569 a portico was added to the northern side, designed by Giovanni Domenico Gagini and Fazio Gagini, in Renaissance style, covered by a cross vault and featuring eleven round arches supported by Corinthian columns. In 1559 most of the internal pavement was added.

The church's plan is a mixture of Eastern Rite and Roman Catholic arrangement. The nave is like an Italian basilica, while the large triple-apsed choir is similar to one of the early three-apsed churches, of which so many examples still exist in Syria and elsewhere in the Middle East. It is like two quite different churches put together endwise.

The main internal features are the vast (6,500 m2) glass mosaics, executed in Byzantine style between the late 12th and the mid-13th centuries by both local and Venetians masters.

Since 2015 it is part of the Arab-Norman Palermo and the Cathedral Churches of Cefalù and Monreale UNESCO Heritage site. The church is a national monument of Italy and one of the most important attractions of Sicily.

 

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Details

Founded: 1172-1267
Category: Religious sites in Italy

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4.7/5 (based on Google user reviews)

User Reviews

Michael Wilson (2 years ago)
Worth the local bus ride to Monreale a uniquely designed and very special mosaic walls and floors (inside) cathedral. A must go to place if visiting Palermo. Lovely salad lunch in a local cafe too!
Arick Bakken (2 years ago)
Dishonest pricing system soured our visit. The cathedral is very beautiful and historically important. However, when you walk up, the sign implies you need to pay 12 euro to enter but you get access to everything. In fact, this gets you into very lame and uninteresting sections like the left transcript and the museum. You also see the rooftop and cloisters. There aren't any better views from the roof than from the street you just walked up. The cloisters are simply overpriced. You should enter the Cathedral for free and then donate whatever moves you. The 5 euro audio guide is as dull as it gets and wants to give you a full description of every inch. We just had to stop. Our guidebook (Rick Steves) was better and perfectly sufficient. Still worth a visit, just felt taken...by a church.
Jeanette Wellems (2 years ago)
A jewel. Take your time for the whole visit. Get your tickets there. Lunch break from 13-14.15!!!!
Michal Szczurek (2 years ago)
One of the most amazing medieval churches I've ever seen. It's decorative interior and it size makes it probably the most beautiful church in Sicilia. Strongly recommended to visit while doing day trips around Palermo.
Joshua Formentera (2 years ago)
We stayed in Sicily on different Airbnb as we are driving around , we drove by car and tour from Palermo to Monreale. The Duomo Monreale is another gorgeous cathedral on the side of a mountain. I was blown away at how beautiful this place was specially the church of Monreale. Intricate art and finishes are all over the interior. I adore this church what a beautiful art of work of classical antiquity done by the Byzantine artists. Amazing work was done in the past but we see it today how beautiful it is. We bought a ticket including a walking up the top of the church and that was amazing things we've done. A fantastic breathtaking view of the entire of Monreale, the sea and the mountain. Overall, it was another solid monument to visit.
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