Even The Floor Is Dazzling

If the 68,000 square feet of mosaic tiles on the walls of Monreale Cathedral don’t mesmerize you, perhaps the floor-designs will! Created by Byzantine-Arab-Norman craftsmen in the late 12th century, William II’s temple offers endless inspiration. The red stone is called red porphyry. The ancient emperors associated it with power during the Roman Empire. It…

What An Apse!

After a Bohemian Rhapsody-style thunderstorm early this morning, we headed to Palermo where our guide Jacqueline guided us on a walking tour from the Palermo Cathedral through Quattro Canti, the Church of Santa Caterina, the Fountain of Shame, and other sites of the Centro Storico (Historic Center) of Palermo. Our senses were sparked by the…

Monreale’s Back Side

Not many people venture to the back side of Monreale Cathedral, but more should. The back of the apse, photographed, is a work of art unto itself. The fascinating stone work incorporates designs of inlaid lava stone, a technique called intarsias, which is a signature element of Arab-Norman architecture.  If you have a few minutes…

The Palm for Paradise

These images, found in Palermo’s Palatine Chapel (and importantly, also at the Cathedral of Monreale) depict palm trees. Palm trees are symbolic of different things: In Christianity, palm branches are attributed to the “victory of the spirit over the flesh” (Wikipedia); hence why many martyrs are depicted holding palm branches. We also need to consider…