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Review: Monreale Cathedral

Attraction - Castles & places of worship

Palermo, Italy

Cathedral cloisters

  • By SilverTraveller ESW

    2000 reviews

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  • October 2017

The cloisters were part of William I’s original Benedictine Monastery. The monks were expelled by Garibaldi in 1951 and the cloisters are now a tourist attraction with a small entry fee. They are reached through a separate entrance next to the cathedral.

They were originally surrounded by a monastic wall and have a good view of the outside of the cathedral

The cloisters form a quadrangle on the south side of the cathedral and are lined with over 200 double columns supporting Arabic style arches. There are alternating plain columns and columns decorated with bands of mosaics. The beautifully carved capitals at the top of the columns are all different. are

In the south east corner is a small fountain which served as the Monk’s lavatorium and is surrounded by carved and mosaic decorate pillars. The carvings depict scenes from the Bible including Adam and Eve trying to hide their nakedness as well as scenes of animals and plants.

This is well worth visiting and taking time to enjoy the workmanship of the master carvers.

There are more pictures here.

This review is solely based on the opinion of a Silver Travel Advisor member and not of Silver Travel Advisor Ltd.

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Other Members' Thoughts - 9 Comment(s)

  • ESW
    8 days ago
    I've not been to the Duomo in Cefalu, but there is also a wonderful mosaic of Roger II being appointed King by God in the Church of La Martorana in Palermo. The church isn't very big but the walls are covered with glorious C12th golden mosaics.
  • JohnP
    8 days ago
    Yes, that did occur to me after I'd posted the comment. Arabesques are well named. I'm always reminded of the very romantic opera King Roger by Karel Szymanowski; Roger employed an Arab adviser at his court. The duomo at Cefalu on the north coast of Sicily has some wonderful mosaics including a portrait of Roger.
  • ESW
    9 days ago
    Actually John, I think it is the Arabic influence which was still strong even after the Normans arrived.
  • JohnP
    9 days ago
    Those columns are astounding. So much variety and interest really gives the lie to ideas of Norman austerity. Perhaps it was the Sicilian sunshine brought out the joie-de-vivre in them.
  • DRSask
    9 days ago
    Beautiful columns! Thanks for sharing.
  • ESW
    10 days ago
    Like Gillian, I also went with Riviera Travel. You can read my detailed report of the places we visited with lots of pictures here.
    http://wasleys.org.uk/eleanor/otherholidays/sicily/index.html

    The Greek and Roman remains were amazing but places like Monreale and some of the churches ran them a close second.
  • Gillian-Thornton
    10 days ago
    There are some wonderful Greek and Roman sites in Sicily. Watch out for my feature, submitted this week and on site soon, about my October tour with Riviera Travel. Greek temples, Roman mosaics, Greco-Roman theatres … Sicily has them all. Oh and Norman and Baroque cathedrals!
  • Amy
    10 days ago
    Going here next year. I thought I preferred Greek and Roman sites but am really looking forward to it now. Thanks ESW.
  • Gillian-Thornton
    10 days ago
    I was there in October as part of a tour with Riviera Travel and agree that this is one of the most stunning cloisters I've seen anywhere. And most opulent, with gold leaf sandwiched beneath panes of clear glass to make tiny mosaic tiles. The interior of the cathedral is a stunner too. Just sit in a pew, lean back, and soak up the skill of craftsmen from many faiths. Glorious!