|The town of Monreale
Tourism in Monreale
In the town of Monreale are also visible the picturesque curtyards and characteristic little streets, with large and simple houses along their sides. Streets lead in the large square of the town in which the Cathedral stands out.
The Cathedral, dedicated to Santa Maria la Nuova and has built from 1174 for will of Norman king William II, is symbol of a refined mixture of architectural styles such as Islamic, Byzantine and Romanesque which contribute in creating one of the best work of art of Sicilian Middle Ages.
Photo © Turi Calvino
It was built together with abbey, royal palace and archbishop's palace which all together form an homogeneous complex.
Its front is alternated with two imposing square towers and a portal supported by two columns in Doric style. In the upper part of it there are some arcades made in calcareous and lava stone.
Its inside is rich of mosaics and there are three naves erected according to typical Byzantine cross shape, with square plan and three apses.
Numerous and splendid gilted mosaics, which cover naves' walls, made between the XII and XIII centuries, are a masterpiece of local workers. They represent the cycle of the Old and the New Testament with specific legends in Latin and Greek.
Photo © Edizioni Leopardi
In the middle apse there is the great image of Cristo Benedicente (Christ who blesses) with the Greek inscription "Pantocrator" (Almighty) in the under part.
It is also the symbol of grandeur of sacred building. Numerous and marvellous works of art can be seen inside the Cathedral, precious and rich of a historical halo which represent a thread of union between past and present.
Through a secluded small door, placed in the right aisle, going through different internal rooms it leads to so-called terraces of Cathedral from which it is possible to enjoy a magnificent panoramic view whic sweeps all over the Conca d'Oro valley.