On the right hand side of the Church, opening onto a Piazza, is the charming gothic flower-Catalan Portico (Porch) flanked by two small towers.
The first column on the left is engraved with an extract of the Koran, reminiscent of the ancient church which previously stood on the site, re-used by Muslims as a Mosque. The portal and door panels date from the fourteenth century with reliefs representing Charles III Bourbon and Amadeus II of Savoy, both of whom were crowned in the Cathedral.
The interior of the Cathedral was given an almost complete neoclassical makeover by the florentine architect Ferdinando Fuga between Seventeen and Eighteen hundred. To the side of the presbytery is the chapel of Saint Rosalia, the patron saint of Palermo. In The first two chapels to the right of the nave stand the tombs of various Norman kings.
Legend tells that Roger II had decreed that his remains be laid in Cefalù Cathedral, which he had planed would be his family mausoleum. To this end he had commissioned the making of two sarcophagi in the stone of Emperors: red porphyry.
However, contrary to his wishes to remain in Cefalù, his body was taken to Palermo Cathedral where he was given a decent resting place: not quite of the Imperial grandeur he had envisaged, but nonetheless he now lies in the company of Kings also buried there.
Later Frederick II, during his reign, transported these two precious sarcophagi from Cefalù to Palermo, one destined for himself, and the other for Henry VI, his father. Frederick II's tomb is mounted between four porphyry columns, resting on four lions on the base of the urn. Though he died in Puglia, he was laid to rest in Palermo, the city he grew up in, and had made so splendid during his reign.
Below ground, in the Cathedral crypt, vaults supported by granite columns, contain evidence of ancient history: mysterious and evocative tombs with inscriptions dating back to the Romans, illustrate the significance of this site to Palermo, and to history.