The cloister, or in Italian “chiostro,” of Monreale Cathedral always pleases me. Its 228 individually designed and decorated columns offer visitors a sanctuary from the bustle of the city of Palermo, which is about 30 minutes by car to the north. Monreale Cathedral was commissioned by the Norman King William II, “The Good” (1172-1189) in the late 12th century. The cloisters were built by Sicilian and Venetian artisans in the early 13th century.
King William II built the Cathedral in these mountains south of Palermo because he spent much time hunting in the woods here. Legend is that one day after a hunt, while napping under a tree at this spot, the Virgin Mother appeared to William in a dream and told him to build a Cathedral in her honor at that site.