Palermo, Italy

Cathedral of Palermo

The splendid Cathedral of Palermo, with its elegant arches and towers, tells the story in stone of this ancient city.

This majestic jewel was built in 1185 on the site of a previous Christian Basilica, which had also been a Mosque in the days of the Arab occupation. Thus, right from its foundations the story of the previous occupations and powers in Palermo are evident.

Walter Offamil, an Anglo-Norman Archbishop commissioned its original construction during the reign of Wiliam II. However, much of its unique Norman-Arab style was radically altered in a renovation, which lasted from the late 1700 until the Nineteenth century.

The oldest part remaining is the presbytery, consisting of three apses between two small towers, decorated on the outside in Arabic style with intersecting blind arches. Another four Norman towers stand at each corner of the cathedral. The façade faces the street, spanned by two large arches connecting the Archbishop's residence to the church.

High above the main portal of the Cathedral, a series of blind arches, columns, mullioned windows, intersecting arches, like a stone lacing, animate the façade. Opposite, on the other side of the street stands the bell tower. Medieval at the base, becoming increasingly recent as it rises. The four smaller turrets around the bell tower were added in the eighteen hundreds.