Church of San Cataldo

Palermo, Italy

Erected in 1154 as a notable example of the Arab-Norman architecture which flourished in Sicily under Norman rule on the island, the Church of San Cataldo is annexed to that of Santa Maria dell'Ammiraglio. In the 19th century it was restored and brought back to a form more similar to the original medieval edifice.

The church has a rectangular plan with blind arches, partially occupied by windows. The ceiling has three characteristics red, bulge domes (cubole) and Arab-style merlons. The church provides a typical example of the Arab-Norman architecture, which is unique to Sicily. The plan of the church shows the predilection of the Normans for simple and severe forms, derived from their military formation. Moreover, the building shows how international the language of Norman architecture was at the time, as the vocabulary which marks parts of the church, like the bell tower, can be tracked down in coeval buildings like the cathedral of Laon and the Abbaye aux Dames in Caen, both in Northern France, or the cathedral of Durham in England. At the same time, the church shows features shared by Islamic and Byzantine architecture, such as the preference for cubic forms, the blind arches which articulate the external walls of the church and the typical spherical red domes on the roof.

The interior has a nave with two aisles. The naked walls are faced by spolia columns with Byzantine style arcades. The pavement is the original one and has a splendid mosaic decoration. Also original is the main altar.

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Details

Founded: 1154
Category: Religious sites in Italy

More Information

en.wikipedia.org

Rating

4.5/5 (based on Google user reviews)

User Reviews

Arthit Yodyunyong (3 months ago)
2.5€ to enter to the church. It's only one chapel inside.
Marko Cvetkovic (3 months ago)
From outside it looks nice with all the different cultures that put their style in it. But don't go in! It's a fraud. There is a lady that has a courtain closed hiding the view of interior part. You pay 3€ because you are courious what's inside. But there is nothing! Empty walls, no fresacas, no interior. When I asked the lady why they are charging it, is there something special I dont see, but she answered me: "it's a church from 12 century". OK... but there are better places to take a look inside for free in Palermo. So dont go in :)
Tony Duffy (3 months ago)
Quaint old church with unique domes on top. Very quirky.
Steve Oldfield (4 months ago)
SCAM Tiny church with nothing to see. €2.5 entry.
Kuala Bound (5 months ago)
High on the ancient city walls, stands the impressive sight given by this XII c Norman church with three unusual little bulge domes, and with merlons of Arab tradition. Originally it was the chapel of a Palace (no more existing), built by the Admiral Majone di Bari but after his killing in 1160 the church interior (paved with beautiful polychrom marble mosaic) was never finished. Three naves are separated by columns retrieved from previous buildings. For six centuries it was property of the Monreale Benedictins till when in 1787 was used as postal office ! Its present aspect is due to restoration carried out in 1885 meant to free it from transformations and bring it back to how it was. Still the question got no clear reply: which was the original colour of the "red" (more pink to grey) domes? Since 1930s the church belongs to the Order of the Holy Sepulchre.
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