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Monreale Cathedral (Duomo di Monreale) description and photos - Italy: Palermo (Sicily). Detailed information about the attraction. Description, photographs and a map showing the nearest significant objects. The title in English is Duomo di Monreale.
Photo & Description
The Cathedral of Monreale, also known as Santa Maria Nuova, is one of the most impressive churches in Sicily and one of the main tourist attractions on the island. Dedicated to the Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary, it is located in the suburb of Palermo - Monreale, a town with a population of 32 thousand people.
The construction of the cathedral and the nearby Benedictine monastery on Mount Caputo began in 1174 by order of King William II the Good. According to legend, the place for the construction of the new church was indicated to William by the Mother of God herself, who appeared to him in a dream and announced that it was there that the king's father, Wilhelm I the Evil, hid untold riches. In addition, the Arab emirs and the Normans who replaced them loved to hunt there.
Already in 1176, the first pilgrims arrived at the monastery, and seven years later the building of the cathedral was completed. Then, from 1183 to 1189, its walls were covered with mosaics - the total area of 130 mosaics is approximately 10 thousand square meters! This is one of the largest mosaic cycles in the world. In 1183, the first burial took place - Margaret of Navarre, the mother of William II, was buried in the cathedral, then William I, Roger of Apulia, Henry of Kapuansky and William II himself found eternal rest here. Already at the end of the 12th century, the cathedral, which received the status of a Cathedral, acquired its present appearance: its western facade and apse were decorated with false arches, and the southern tower was crowned with a spire. In 1267, the cathedral was consecrated in honor of the Nativity of the Most Holy Theotokos.
Significant changes in the structure of the cathedral were carried out in the 15-17 centuries: in the 15th century a sacristy was added, in the 16th century the floor of the cathedral was laid with white Taorman marble, and a side portico was added to the north wall. At the same time, the chapel of St. Castrentius was built, in which his relics are now kept. A century later, the Baroque chapel of the Crucifixion was erected. In 1770, the sculptor Ignazio Marabitti built on the site of the collapsed 12-century portico a new, more elegant, but discordant with the Norman style of the entire building.
In the 19th century, there were two catastrophes that partially changed the appearance of the cathedral. In 1807, lightning struck the south tower, causing the spire to collapse, which was never rebuilt. And in 1811 there was a terrible fire that destroyed the ceiling by Arab masters and damaged mosaics and royal tombstones. It took several decades to restore the interior decoration.
Today, the Cathedral of Monreale is an important monument of Norman architecture, which is visited by millions of tourists every year. Its interior mixed features of Romanesque architecture, Arab applied and Greek church art. And the main attraction of the cathedral is the 130 mosaics mentioned above, written on religious subjects. An interesting fact: the names of the authors of the mosaics have not survived, they could have been both masters from Constantinople and local ones. Residents of Montreal affectionately call this majestic church "La Matrice" - Mother, emphasizing its special significance in the history of the city.
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Topic: Cathedral of Monreale (Duomo di Monreale) description and photos - Italy: Palermo (Sicily).