Artists from multiple cultural origins contributed to these mosaic designs that exist in the Cappella Palatina, the private chapel commissioned by Sicilian King Roger II (1095-1154) and completed by his heir, King William I (1120-1166). The palm tree, the central icon of this photo, has significance to many peoples, many of whom came together to construct this magnificent monument in Palermo.
To the artisans and people of the Kingdom of Sicily: Byzantine Greeks, North African Arabs, Sicilian Jews, Norman French, and so many others who lived side by side in this international port city, the palm represented everything from peace, unification, rebirth, awakening of true wisdom, fertility, longevity, victory, and life itself. Whatever they may have believed individually, when they worked together, contributing their talents and knowledge, they created something splendid.
The Norman kings led with tolerance, embracing and championing their multicultural society. As a result, it was one of Sicily’s most prosperous and peaceful periods.