Monreale Things to Do

  • Things to Do
    by oriettaIT
  • Things to Do
    by oriettaIT
  • Things to Do
    by oriettaIT

Most Recent Things to Do in Monreale

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    Visit the Catherdal

    by oriettaIT Updated May 27, 2012

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    After you have seen the cathedral in Palermo and its elaborate outside you will probably be not too impressed by Monreale Dome, but wait to get inside!
    The famous golden mosaic are all over the place and give to the place a majestic feeling.

    Be sure to check the timetable for visits:
    weekdays: 8:30 to 12:45 and from 14:30 to 17:00
    public holidays: from 8:00 to 10:00 and from 14:30 to 17:30
    During the celebrations is not allowed to visit.

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    Visit Chiostro dei Benedettini

    by oriettaIT Written May 27, 2012

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    Before or after your visit to the Cathedral do not leave out this wonderful place!
    The peaceful and quiet cloister will astonish and amaze you with hundreds of white columns, some are adorned with mosaics, other has incredible works of carving.
    The entrance is on the right side of the Dome, in 2011 it was 6 Euros and it was totally worth it.

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    The cathedral

    by toonsarah Updated Aug 13, 2011

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    Ceiling of side chapel, Monreale
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    As I said in my intro, our taxi driver in Monreale claimed that this was the most beautiful cathedral in the world, and once inside it’s not too difficult to feel that he might have a point, despite the many other claimants to that title.

    The cathedral is rightly considered one of the greatest architectural marvels of the Middle Ages, and is a mixture of Arab, Byzantine and Norman artistic styles, a blend of medieval Christian and Muslim architecture. It was founded by William II in 1172 and largely completed some four years later, though some of the work dragged on into the 13th century. The beautiful mosaics are said to be one of the world's largest displays of this art. These mosaics cover 6,340 square meters of the duomo's interior surface, practically all the surfaces of the cathedral's walls (apart from the ground level up to a height of two meters)

    All of the mosaic figures (mainly icons) are set on a background of gold, and the colours just bowled me over. There are apparently a total of 130 (I didn't count them!) individual mosaic scenes depicting biblical events. The Old Testament is portrayed upon the walls of the central nave, starting from the Creation. The mosaics on the side aisles illustrate the major events of the life of Jesus, from His birth to the Crucifixion. The crowning glory is the majestic Christ Pantocrator (All Powerful) located on the central apse over the main altar. This image is 13 meters across and seven meters high. Beneath it is a mosaic of the Mother of God enthroned with the Christ child on her lap.

    In contrast the exterior is fairly plain, apart from some intricate stonework on the apse which can be seen from the street behind the cathedral. It's also really worth climbing the steps to the roof - see separate tip.

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    the cathedral

    by domenicococozza Written Aug 22, 2007

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    view across the piazza
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    Tourists flock to Monreale for one reason - to see the Cathedral. Unquestionably, the greatest architectural achievement of the Normans in Sicily. Construction started in 1170 under the watchful eye of King William 11 of Sicily. This remarkable cathedral has some of the best byzantine mosaics and intricate gold leaf work in all of Italy.

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    Monreale Cathedral

    by al_mary Updated Jan 28, 2007

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    The Monreale Cathedral is a definate
    must to see if you are in Sicily. It is a
    dazzling mixture of Arab, Byzantine and
    Norman artistic styles framed by traditional
    Romanesque architecture, all combined in
    a perfect blend of the best that both the
    Christian and Muslim worlds of the 12th
    century had to offer.

    ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

    Transport: Monreale can be reached on bus 389 from the
    Piazza Indipendenza in Palermo, taking about 20 minutes
    to reach the Cathedral.

    Opening time: Daily 8 am to 6 am

    The abbey cloister is open Monday to Saturday 9 am to 1pm,
    and usually from 3 pm to 7 pm during the tourist season.

    Sundays 9 am to 12.30 pm

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    Cloisters of Monreale

    by toonsarah Updated Nov 10, 2006

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    Carved capital in the cloisters
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    The cloisters at Monreale are another star attraction. The entrance is in a corner of the piazza immediately in front of the cathedral, and there’s a charge of 6 Euros, which seemed a little dear to us compared with the 2 Euros we’d paid to go up on the roof, but it is worth it.

    There are 228 columns, many with mosaic inlay and all with a wonderfully stone carved capital. These capitals depict scenes in Sicily's Norman history and Bible scenes. Every one is different. There is also an attractive Arab style fountain in one corner, and the overall atmosphere is very peaceful.

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    Up on the roof

    by toonsarah Written Nov 8, 2006

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    View of Palermo from the roof tops
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    In the north east corner of Monreale’s stunning cathedral we came across a small doorway and a sign indicating that for a fee of 2 euros we could get a view of the cloisters. We paid our fee and found ourselves not going out into the famous cloisters themselves, but climbing a stone staircase set within the cathedral’s walls. After a few flights we emerged onto the roof of the north transept and were rewarded with the promised view of the cloisters below, and a great angle from which to photograph one of the towers. But there was more!

    At the far end of the roof another doorway led to a potentially claustrophically narrow corridor squeezed into the roof space (see 2nd photo) and beyond that more steps leading on upwards until eventually we found ourselves on a much higher section of the roof, with a panoramic view of the city of below and beyond it the beautiful blue bay.

    This tour of discovery isn’t for anyone who has a fear of heights or of tight spaces, nor for anyone who would find the climb too much of a challenge, but for anyone else I would really recommend doing this, especially on a fine day.

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    Cathedral Cloister: Column Bases (A Speculation)

    by hquittner Written May 15, 2005
    Fantasy sculpture

    If you look at the stone bases upon which columns are mounted you find carved round bases in the Ionic and most Corinthian and later styles. I have noticed carvings imposed on these bases( many but not all; most often Romanesque). I do not find mention of this in books on Architectural or Art history. The figures are most often where there are corners, where 3-dimension would be easiest to carve and where if defective or undesirable they could easily be shaved off. They are often fanciful and have no obvious purpose. They remind me of modillions of the same period. Were these training exercises for apprentices? Did they award prizes for the prettiest, most fantastic, etc. (a new chisel , a keg of beer, shoes, etc). Some day I hope to find the answer to both of these sculptural enigmas.I have seen these in Pisa on the Baptistry and other places as well.

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    The Cathedral Cloister : The South Wall

    by hquittner Written May 15, 2005
    The Dormitory Wall

    This was the wall of the Dormitory of the Monastery which probably existed befor the other structures were initiated. It has a Norman-Romanesque style with a little Moorish influence. Wm. II brought Benedictine Cluniac monks here before starting hismaster plan to control the church inflence in his kingdom. The Monastery became Charlemagne's power base because it was the source of communication through learning (writing) and remained this until the printing press. Having a cluster of monks self-walled (cloistered ) into a church area was like having a computer (read: copies, messaging("email"), systems design) and outside he used it for politics.

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    The Cathedral Cloister : The Fountain

    by hquittner Written May 15, 2005
    Lions and Maidens

    The Moorish influence is most visible here. The stylized zig-zag mosaics and bulbous fountain head ("palm-tree") and the psychological association of splashing water to begin with! But from the foliate top we descend to a row of miniature lion spouts (shades of the Alhambra) and below that a ring of well built dancing girls (maybe lusty Norman, but not religious Benedictines or Moslim clerics either). Worth a visit and a stare.

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    The Cathedral Cloister: Water Source("Chiostrino")

    by hquittner Written May 15, 2005
    Minicloister

    The most unusual aspect of the cloister is this structure. It sits at the SW inside corner of the cloister and blends in with the entire structure. It is without roof, with a 4 column inner corner, but is otherwise like the rest. At its center is the reason for its existence. Standing in a stone basin is a stylized palm tree in the form of an inlaid column. This is a fountain. Thus the minicloister is a water source, a requirement for all cloisters. Most of these are centrally placed and are wells. Examine the columns and capitals for they are the most worked in the entire cloister. The inner columns are as detailed as any Gothic portal. Can you imagine sitting on the steps and reading a book while the fountain splashed?

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    The Cathedral Cloister : The Capitals

    by hquittner Updated May 15, 2005
    Adam, Eve, Snake & Apple

    The rebirth of sculture occurred in the carving of the capitals of cloisters and spread to the tympani over the associated church portals( and funerary plaques), then pulpits and finally free standing statuary. They are a challenge to behold because they contain the germs of a great art form and because their subject matter and ultimate purpose is often not clear. Romanesque themes(probably religious) are hard to recognize without a lot of background, ditto technical artistic nuances. They range from floral designs to fantastic beasties to Bible Stories. We had no guiding literature at the time. I took pictures of the capitals that intrigued me the most but have failed to identify many of their themes.It is probable that these sculptors had been working at Cluniac pilgrimage churches in Provence and the Pyrenees (eg. Moissac) and that here they trained new apprentices and collaborated with Byzantine mosaicists to expand their talents. The picture I chose has the obvious story. Some of the capitals are single but the more talented ones are double (like this one) and require a larger block of stone and more adept carving.

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    The Cathedral Cloister : The Columns

    by hquittner Written May 15, 2005
    A row of double columns

    The columns are small compared with the ancient ones inside the church, The technic for making large ones or their transport from quarries was not well developed. But they turned them out in large numbers for the other buildings as well. The majority have an innovative combination of sculture and mosaic work, a sort of grooving and encrustation with varying patterns and colors (most intact, but some falling away). The tecnic is called Cosmatic and is seen elsewhere especially in Rome on elaborate candelabras, etc. The name derives from a family of sculptor-mosaicists who lived in the 11-13C. The first of the Cosmati does not antedate the cloister and in view of the profusion of examples, it must have originated here or from another older inspiration.

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    The Cathedral Cloister: The First View

    by hquittner Updated May 15, 2005
    Cloister looking N. toward Cathedral

    This is a large square structure with 228 paired columns. Every column is different!(The reason for this variety is unknown).The columns are topped by carved capitals but there does not appear to be a theme to any groups of them. The columns occur in pairs except at the 4 corners of the cloister.The most unexpected aspect of the cloister are the arches. This is a Romanesque (Norman) structure. The pointed arches derive from Saracen influence. They are ogival and not weight bearing Gothic . The decorations above the arches are also fascinating with their mixture of stone and lava rock (this is not mosaic work but certainly is a blend of sculptural and other technics (like the W. portal of the church and the apse). Only churches with attached monasteries created cloisters and they characteristically are situated along the S. wall of the church as occurs here. This cloister was possibly under construction even before the building of the church began.

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    Cathedral mosaics. The Ministry of Christ

    by hquittner Written May 11, 2005
    Christ forgives the Adulteress

    Above the plain walls with their decorative borders between each of the windows on the outer walls (North and South) of the aisles are mosaic panels depicting the miracles and other important actions of Jesus. These enlarge the Gospel for the believer. It is important to remember that this is the largest display of mosaic (in square area) in the world!

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Monreale Things to Do

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