The Info List - Monreale

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(Sicilian: Murriali[1]) is a town and comune in the province of Palermo, in Sicily, Italy. It is located on the slope of Monte Caputo, overlooking the very fertile valley called "La Conca d'oro" (the Golden Shell), famed for its orange, olive and almond trees, the produce of which is exported in large quantities. The town, which has a population of approximately 30,000, is about 15 kilometres (9 miles) inland (south) of Palermo, the capital of the island. Monreale
forms its own archdiocese and is renowned for its Norman-Byzantine cathedral. This has been designated as one of several buildings named in a UNESCO World Heritage Site, a group of nine inscribed as Arab-Norman Palermo
and the Cathedral Churches of Cefalù and Monreale.


1 History 2 The cathedral 3 International relations

3.1 Twin towns — Sister cities

4 References 5 See also 6 External links

History[edit] See also: History of Palermo
and History of Sicily After the occupation of Palermo
by the Arabs (the Emirate of Sicily), the Bishop of Palermo
was forced to move his seat outside the capital. The role of cathedral was assigned to a modest little church, Aghia Kiriaki, in a nearby village later known as Monreale. After the Norman conquest in 1072, Christians took back the former Palermo
cathedral. Probably the village's role as temporary ecclesiastical centre played a part in King William II's decision to build a cathedral here.[2] Monreale
was a small village for a long time. When the Norman Kings of Sicily
chose the area as their hunting resort, more people and commerce came to the area after the royalty built a palace (probably identifiable with the modern town hall). Under King William II, the large monastery of Benedictines coming from Cava de' Tirreni, with its church, was founded and provided with large assets. The new construction also had an important defensive function. Monreale
was the seat of the metropolitan archbishop of Sicily, which from then on exerted a significant influence over Sicily. In the nineteenth century, underage marriages, or those performed without the blessing of the bride's parents, were known as "the marriages of Monreale", according to Eliza Lynn Linton. These referred to marriages performed in remote places, where the law was less observed.[3] (see Gretna Green). The cathedral[edit]

The outside of the cathedral is plain, except the aisle walls and three eastern apses, which are decorated with intersecting pointed arches and other ornaments inlaid in marble.

The outsides of the principal doorways and their pointed arches are magnificently enriched with carving and coloured inlay, a curious combination of three styles - Norman-French, Byzantine and Arab.

William II offering the Monreale Cathedral
Monreale Cathedral
to the Virgin Mary.

The cloister of the abbey of Monreale.

Although not so refined as mosaics in Cefalù
and the Palazzo dei Normanni, the cathedral interior contains the largest cycle of Byzantine mosaics extant in Italy.

The cathedral of Monreale
is one of the greatest extant examples of Norman architecture
Norman architecture
anywhere. It was begun in 1174 by William II. In 1182 the church, dedicated to the Nativity of the Virgin Mary, was, by a bull of Pope Lucius III, elevated to the rank of a metropolitan cathedral. The church is a national monument of Italy
and one of the most important attractions of Sicily. Its size is 102 meters(334 ft) long and 40 meters wide(131 ft.) The archiepiscopal palace and monastic buildings on the south side were of great size and magnificence, and were surrounded by a massive precinct wall, crowned at intervals by twelve towers. This has been mostly rebuilt, and but little now remains except ruins of some of the towers, a great part of the monks' dormitory and frater, and the splendid cloister, completed about 1200. The latter is well preserved, and is one of the finest Italian cloisters now extant both for size and beauty of detail. It is about 2,200 m2, with pointed arches decorated with diaper work, supported on pairs of columns in white marble, 216 in all, which were alternately plain and decorated by bands of patterns in gold and colors, made of glass tesserae, arranged either spirally or vertically from end to end of each shaft. The marble capitals are each carved with foliage, biblical scenes and allegories, no two being alike. At one angle, a square pillared projection contains the marble fountain or monks' lavatorium, evidently the work of Muslim sculptors. The church's plan is a mixture of Eastern Rite and Roman Catholic arrangement. The nave is like an Italian basilica, while the large triple-apsed choir is similar to one of the early three-apsed churches, of which so many examples still exist in Syria and elsewhere in the Middle East. It is like two quite different churches put together endwise. The basilican nave is wide, with narrow aisles. On each side, monolithic columns of grey oriental granite (except one, which is of cipolin marble) support eight pointed arches much stilted. The capitals of these (mainly Corinthian) are also of the classical period. There is no triforium, but a high clerestory with wide two-light windows, with simple tracery like those in the nave-aisles and throughout the church, which give sufficient light. The other half, eastern in two senses, is both wider and higher than the nave. It also is divided into a central space with two aisles, each of the divisions ending at the east with an apse. The roofs throughout are of open woodwork very low in pitch, constructionally plain, but richly decorated with colour, now mostly restored. At the west end of the nave are two projecting towers, with a narthex (entrance) between them. A large open atrium, which once existed at the west, is now completely destroyed, having been replaced by a Renaissance portico by Giovanni Domenico and Fazio Gagini (1547–1569). It is, however, the large extent (6,500 m2) of the impressive glass mosaics covering the interior which make this church so splendid. With the exception of a high dado, made of marble slabs with bands of mosaic between them, the whole interior surface of the walls, including soffits and jambs of all the arches, is covered with minute mosaic-pictures in bright colors on a gold ground. The mosaic pictures are arranged in tiers, divided by horizontal and vertical bands. In parts of the choir there are five of these tiers of subjects or single figures one above another. The half dome of the central apse has a colossal half-length figure of Christ, with a seated Virgin and Child below; the other apses have full-length figures of St Peter
St Peter
and St Paul. Inscriptions on each picture explain the subject or saint represented; these are in Latin, except some few which are in Greek. The subjects in the nave begin with scenes from the Book of Genesis, illustrating the Old Testament types of Christ and His scheme of redemption, with figures of those who prophesied and prepared for His coming. Around the lower tier and the choir are subjects from the New Testament, chiefly representing Christ's miracles and suffering, with apostles, evangelists and other saints. The design, execution and choice of subjects all appear to be of Byzantine origin, the subjects being selected from the Menologion of Basil II
Basil II
drawn up by the emperor Basil II
Basil II
in the 10th century. The tomb of William I of Sicily
(the founder's father), a magnificent porphyry sarcophagus contemporary with the church, under a marble pillared canopy, and the founder William II's tomb, erected in 1575, were both shattered by a fire, which in 1811 broke out in the choir, injuring some of the mosaics and destroying all the fine walnut choir-fittings, the organs and most of the choir roof. The tombs were rebuilt, and the whole of the injured part of the church restored a few years after the fire. The present organ, revised in 1967 by Ruffatti, has six manuals and 102 stops. On the north of the choir are the tombs of Margaret of Navarre, wife of William I, and her two sons Roger and Henry, together with an urn containing the viscera of Saint Louis of France, who died in 1270. The pavement of the triple choir, though much restored, is a specimen of marble and porphyry mosaic in opus alexandrinum, with signs of Arab influence in its main lines. The mosaic pavement of the nave was completed in the 16th century, and has disks of porphyry and granite with marble bands intermingled with irregular lines. Two baroque chapels were added in the 17th and 18th centuries, which are shut off from the rest of the church. The bronze doors of the mosaic-decorated portal on the left side was executed by Barisano da Trani in 1179. International relations[edit] See also: List of twin towns and sister cities in Italy Twin towns — Sister cities[edit] Monreale
is twinned with:

Bielsko-Biała, Poland[4]


^ "Monreale" is a contraction of monte-reale, "royal mountain", so-called from a palace built here by Roger I of Sicily ^ Rodo Santoro: Palermo
Cathedral,' Palermo: 1999, p. 7 ^ Linton, Eliza Lynn (1885). Some Sicilian Customs (41 ed.). 'The Eclectic Magazine'. The church did not sanction marriage younger than these several ages [20 for men, 18 for women], save in exceptional cases; and any one who assisted at the marriage of a girl below the age of 18, without the consent of her parents or guardians, was imprisoned for life and forfeited all he had. This law, however, was frequently broken in remote places, and especially about Palermo, where "the marriages of Monreale" have passed into a proverb. When a young girl, say of sixteen, marries and has a good childbirth, they say "She has been to Monreale".  ^ " Bielsko-Biała
- Partner Cities". © 2008 Urzędu Miejskiego w Bielsku-Białej. Retrieved 2008-12-10. 

 This article incorporates text from a publication now in the public domain: Chisholm, Hugh, ed. (1911). "Monreale". Encyclopædia Britannica. 18 (11th ed.). Cambridge University Press. p. 736. 

See also[edit]

Arab-Norman Palermo
and the Cathedral Churches of Cefalù
and Monreale

External links[edit]

Wikimedia Commons
Wikimedia Commons
has media related to: Monreale

tourist guide Adrian Fletcher’s Paradoxplace – Monreale Cathedral
Monreale Cathedral
and Cloisters

v t e

Comuni of the Metropolitan City of Palermo

Alia Alimena Aliminusa Altavilla Milicia Altofonte Bagheria Balestrate Baucina Belmonte Mezzagno Bisacquino Blufi Bolognetta Bompietro Borgetto Caccamo Caltavuturo Campofelice di Fitalia Campofelice di Roccella Campofiorito Camporeale Capaci Carini Castelbuono Casteldaccia Castellana Sicula Castronovo di Sicilia Cefalà Diana Cefalù Cerda Chiusa Sclafani Ciminna Cinisi Collesano Contessa Entellina Corleone Ficarazzi Gangi Geraci Siculo Giardinello Giuliana Godrano Gratteri Isnello Isola delle Femmine Lascari Lercara Friddi Marineo Mezzojuso Misilmeri Monreale Montelepre Montemaggiore Belsito Palazzo Adriano Palermo Partinico Petralia Soprana Petralia Sottana Piana degli Albanesi Polizzi Generosa Pollina Prizzi Roccamena Roccapalumba San Cipirello San Giuseppe Jato San Mauro Castelverde Santa Cristina Gela Santa Flavia Sciara Scillato Sclafani Bagni Termini Imerese Terrasini Torretta Trabia Trappeto Ustica Valledolmo Ventimiglia di Sicilia Vicari Villabate Villafrati

v t e

Cathedrals in Sicily

Province of Agrigento

Agrigento Piazza Armerina Caltanissetta

Province of Catania

Catania Acireale Caltagirone

Province of Messina

Messina Lipari1 Santa Lucia del Mela1 Nicosia Patti

Province of Palermo

Palermo Cefalù Monreale

Province of Siracusa

Siracusa Noto Ragusa

Province of Trapani

Trapani Mazara del Vallo

Eparchy of Piana degli Albanesi

Piana degli Albanesi Martorana1

1 co-cathedral

v t e

World Heritage Sites in Italy


Crespi d'Adda Genoa Mantua
and Sabbioneta Monte San Giorgio1 Porto Venere, Palmaria, Tino and Tinetto, Cinque Terre

Corniglia Manarola Monterosso al Mare Riomaggiore Vernazza

Residences of the Royal House of Savoy

Castle of Moncalieri Castle of Racconigi Castle of Rivoli Castello del Valentino Royal Palace of Turin Palazzo Carignano Palazzo Madama, Turin Palace of Venaria Palazzina di caccia of Stupinigi Villa della Regina

Rhaetian Railway
Rhaetian Railway
in the Albula / Bernina Landscapes1 Rock Drawings in Valcamonica Sacri Monti of Piedmont and Lombardy Santa Maria delle Grazie, Milan Vineyard Landscape of Piedmont: Langhe- Roero
and Monferrato


Aquileia The Dolomites Ferrara Modena Cathedral, Torre della Ghirlandina
Torre della Ghirlandina
and Piazza Grande, Modena Orto botanico di Padova Ravenna Venice Verona City of Vicenza and the Palladian Villas of the Veneto


Assisi Basilica
of Saint Francis of Assisi Etruscan Necropolises of Cerveteri
and Tarquinia Florence Hadrian's Villa Medici villas Piazza del Duomo, Pisa Pienza Rome2 San Gimignano Siena Urbino Val d'Orcia Villa d'Este


Alberobello Amalfi Coast Castel del Monte, Apulia Cilento
and Vallo di Diano
Vallo di Diano
National Park, Paestum
and Velia, Certosa di Padula Herculaneum Oplontis
and Villa Poppaea Naples Palace of Caserta, Aqueduct of Vanvitelli
Aqueduct of Vanvitelli
and San Leucio
San Leucio
Complex Pompeii Sassi di Matera


Aeolian Islands Arab-Norman Palermo
and the Cathedral Churches of Cefalù
and Monreale Archaeological Area of Agrigento Barumini nuraghes Mount Etna Syracuse and Necropolis of Pantalica Val di Noto

Caltagirone Catania Militello in Val di Catania Modica Noto Palazzolo Acreide Ragusa Scicli

Villa Romana del Casale


Longobards in Italy, Places of Power (568–774 A.D.)

Brescia Cividale del Friuli Castelseprio Spoleto Temple of Clitumnus
Temple of Clitumnus
located at Campello sul Clitunno Santa Sofia located at Benevento Sanctuary of Monte Sant'Angelo
Sanctuary of Monte Sant'Angelo
located at Monte Sant'Angelo

Prehistoric pile dwellings around the Alps3 Primeval Beech Forests of Europe4 Venetian Works of Defence between 15th and 17th centuries5

Bergamo Palmanova Peschiera del Garda

1 Shared with Switzerland 2 Shared with the Holy See 3 Shared with Austria, France, Germany, Slovenia, and Switzerland 4 Shared with Albania, Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Croatia, Germany, Poland, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain
and Ukraine 5 Shared with Croatia
and Montenegro

Authority control

WorldCat Identities VIAF: 234631602 GND: 4115193-8 BNF: