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Palermo Cathedral

Palermo Cathedral

The Cathedral in the UNESCO Arab-Norman itinerary

The landmark of Palermo

The Cathedral of Palermo, named after Maria SS Assunta, is the monument that represents the city, symbol of the cooperation between the different dominations in Sicily. The Cathedral of Palermo is part of the Arab-Norman itinerary of the UNESCO heritage city. 

The building is located near the main road of the city, via Vittorio Emanuele, and is part of an old complex that stretched between the Cassaro and the first city settlement of Punic origin. It was built on the so-called floor of the Cathedral, where in pre-Muslim times stood a Christian basilica, on whose ruins in 831 the Arabs built the Gami mosque, made Christian again by the Normans in 1072.

Construction began in 1179 and ended in 1185, during the reign of Guglielmo II, the last Norman king. The work was entrusted to Arab architects and workers, who were inspired by the fatimida architecture, providing the unique style that made it famous.

Over the centuries, the structure has undergone several maintenance works that changed its external and internal appearance. The first Norman building includes the high walls of the main aisle, the three apses, the western tower and the first orders of the four angular towers. Between the 1300 and the 1400, the towers, the main facade, and the three-arched Catalan-inspired southern porch were completed. On the left column of the porch, probably belonging to the old mosque, are engraved some verses of the Koran.

The interior of the church, like the exterior facade, has undergone several alterations over the years, which have altered its original pattern. At the end of the 700s the three-nave structure was replaced by a Latin cross plan and the exterior facade was completed with the construction of the dome.

Santa Rosalia and the Cathedral Treasure

Inside the Cathedral there is an immense artistic heritage of paintings, sculptures and artefacts, including the Norman royal tombs of Federico II and Constance of Altavilla and the silver urn with the remains of Santa Rosalia, carried every year in procession on the 15th of July, during the Festino of Santa Rosalia, one of the oldest religious festivals in Europe.

To the right of the apse is the sacristy, that hosts the so-called "treasure of the Cathedral", a patrimony of sacred vestments and precious objects, including a 15th-century breviary and the tiara with pearls and gems of Constance of Aragona, found in his tomb.

The entrance to the church is free except for the area of the treasure, the crypt, the royal tombs, and the roof, that have an entrance fee.

 

 

The B&B Il Giardino di Ballarò is near Palermo Cathedral

The Cathedral is only 5 minutes away from the B&B "Il Giardino di Ballarò" and you can reach it thanks to the suggestive small old town streets.

 

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