The Cathedral of Palermo

You cannot visit Palermo without seeing the infamous Cathedral of Palermo – even by accident.  This Cathedral is the largest church in Sicily and that is why it is literally hard to miss. It is renowned worldwide for its style which spans across numerous ages and influenced by the various cultures of the invaders of Sicily throughout its history. Therefore, it is no wonder tourists flock to Palermo – besides its food, Palermo has a unique set of architectural styles to marvel at. The Cathedral and many other churches tell the story of the invasions and rulers of this once cosmopolitan city. Ranging from the Normans, the Arabs, the Romans, French and the Jews who have all signed off on the Cathedral in their unique artistic flare. Inevitably, the Cathedral of Palermo was added to the UNESCO’s World Heritage List in 2015.

Palermo Cathedral - Wikipedia

The Cathedral of Palermo or ‘Il Duomo’ by the Palermitani, was officially founded and erected by Walter Ophamil in 1185, an Englishman who came to Palermo as tutor to the young William II – Duke of Athens. It was previously built on top of a mosque which was originally a Christian basilica before the Muslims invaded in the 9th century. One of the many characteristics is the treasures held inside of the Palermo Cathedral. It hosts many sacred vestments ranging from the 16th-18th centuries. One in particular is the gold, Byzantine tiara of Constance of Aragon – the Aragons originated from Spain and were one of the families who reigned the Kingdom of Sicily; besides the Angevins, who originated from Normandy.  The Cathedral is also host to many royal and imperial burial tombs. Most notably, those of King Roger II, his daughter Queen Constance I of Sicily and her husband Emperor Henry VI and their son Emperor Frederick II, amongst many more. Their style is inspired from the sarcophagi of the late Roman emperors which is why this Cathedral is a never ending wonder, especially for art history lovers.

Palermo's Cathedral – Palermo For 91 Days

The Cathedral, which is located in the Arab-Norman Palermo is located on the northern coast of Sicily. This part of Sicily is so culturally rich that nine civil and religious structures have been added to the UNESCO World Heritage List. They date back to the Norman kingdom of Sicily (1130-1194)  and include two palaces, three churches, a cathedral, a bridge and the cathedrals of nearby towns just as culturally rich; Cefalù and Monreale – also must-see cities whilst in Sicily. These monuments are nothing short of a long tale of a social-cultural blend of the West, Islamic and Byzantine cultures on the Sicilian island.

Today, it is affiliated with the Roman Catholic Church and part of the Archdiocese of Palermo. We think we live in a culturally diverse city today, but we can only imagine the many religions, wide range of food being sold and made, and the languages and dialects spoken at the time!

Palermo: Travels in the City of Happiness: Art, Architecture and History in Sicily's Ancient Capital by [Allan Langdale]

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