Palermo and Monreale
An astonishing beauty
Our private tour in Monreale will be an unforgettable experience of beauty: gold mosaics, medieval atmosphere and amazing landscapes. The Cathedral of Monreale is included in the UNESCO World Heritage List because of its amazing history and beauty. We will unravel together the reasons why we find this Cathedral in such a particular place with such a mixture of different artistic styles. Monreale has a wonderful geographical position which offers us the perfect overview of the city of Palermo.
We offer the visit of the Cathedral of Monreale in combination with the Exclusive tour of Palermo, for a full day experience.
Monreale is a small village on the slopes of Monte Caputo, 8 km (5 mi) southwest of Palermo. It has a great view down the valley (the Conca d’Oro) and a medieval atmosphere with its small streets. It is also the seat of an archbishop and its history is strictly connected to the construction of the Cathedral.
The Cathedral of Monreale is one of the most important Norman buildings in the island. It is dedicated to the Madonna and called Santa Maria La Nuova. It dates back to the twelfth century, when the Norman king William II, known as William the Good, founded a Benedictine monastery here; the Duomo was its abbey.
The upper part of the interior is completely covered in gleaming gold mosaics; more than 6,000 square meters. The combination of Norman, Byzantine and Islamic art and architecture demonstrates the different cultural influences which created Sicily’s most glorious era. In the central apse, above the altar, the huge picture of Christ Pantokrator, in benediction.
The cloister: an example of perfection
The Chiostro dei Benedettini is an elegant square with 228 twin columns supporting pointed arches. The capitals represent animals, monsters, birds, religious scenes and mythological stories.
On the south-west corner is an enclosure (called chiostrino) formed by three arches on each side with a fountain: this was the place used by the monks to wash their hands before entering the refectory.
During the visit with us, you will wonder at the majestic gold Byzantine mosaics mixed with the Islamic influence. You will discover the cycle of the Old Testament represented in the central nave, the scenes of the life of Christ in the aisles and in the sanctuary, the Apses dedicated to St. Peter and St. Paul, but also the islamic decorations and the tombs of King William I and King William II.
The church visit will be also an opportunity to focus on the Norman period, going back to the 11th and 12th century, and to discover the extraordinary adventure of the Norman Kings who made Palermo the capital of a kingdom.