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Monreale, Italy 2018
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This is the interior of the Cathedral in Monreale. It is covered in beautiful Byzantine mosaics and is a joy to behold.

Monreale is a small hill town about 15 kms South of Palermo. When the Arabs conquered Palermo in 831 AD, the Christian Bishop of Palermo was obliged to move his seat elsewhere. He chose a little village called Monreale.

After the Normans under Roger I recaptured Sicily in 1072, the Cathedral in Palermo was reoccupied by the Christians (it had been turned into a Mosque during the Arab reign).

It was King William II, the grandson of Roger II, who founded the Cathedral in Monreale in 1174. Thus, Monreale Cathedral was built some 40 years after the Palatine Chapel of Roger II in Palermo.

To reach Monreale from Palermo by public transport, you can catch the 389 bus from Piazza Indipendenza (which is pretty close to the Norman Palace in Palermo).

A word of warning!

The 389 bus runs infrequently. Make sure you find out when this bus departs from Monreale, as it is a long walk back to Palermo, and the taxis there are not cheap!

The town of Moreale is high up on the slopes of Mount Caputo, and it overlooks the fertile valley of La Conca d'oro (the Golden Shell).
The little town of Monreale is worth exploring while you wait for the Cathedral to open. Remember, this is Sicilian time and the Siesta is strictly observed!
The Norman facade of the Cathedral.
The exterior of two of the three Apses of the Cathedral.

At the bottom right of the photo we can see a Christian cross which is combined with an 8 pointed Arab star. William II carried on the tradition established by his grandfather, Roger II of fusing the various cultures of Sicily in the decoration of religious buildings.

That is the Arco Degli Angeli in the Cathedral precinct.
The Nave and Central Apse of the Cathedral.
Christ Pantocrator in the main Apse.
Just below the image of Christ Pantocrator we see the Virgin with Child, Angels and Saints.
I think the columns here are Corinthian.
There is a suggestion that the mosaics in the Nave of the Cathedral may not be as fine and sophisticated as the ones in the Palatine Chapel in Palermo. This has been attributed to the possibility that local craftsmen were used in Monreale, while the best mosaic craftsmen from the Byzantine Empire were imported to Sicily to work on the Palatine Chapel.

It would not be the first time that top craftsmen imported from other lands have taught the locals a trick or two.

The top part of the ceiling reveals its Arab influence.
The basic structure of this part of the ceiling is essentially Norman, but the decoration seems to be decideldy Eastern.
We say farewell to Monreale.

Don't forget to check the departure times of the 389 bus to get you back to Palermo.

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