Palermo Cathedral. Diocesan Museum. Plus the bakery @ Santa Caterina.

The Cathedral of Palermo is dedicated to the Assumption of the Virgin Mary. A little is in our walking tour of Palermo video on Doris Visit, but this is a long film of the religious buildings, the Cathedral and Diocesan Museum.

Our religious playlist is a list of 24 films which includes the mosaic-covered spilt blood church in St Petersburg – the only way you will get to see that now. It also includes Canterbury Cathedral which could be a UK excursion from Dover and Laycock Abbey where some of Downton and other classic films were shot. Palermo Cathedral kicks the list off, and the reason it is so elaborate, apart from its history which means it has Arab influence and Koran engravings inside, is because it was built in competition with the one on Monreale. 

Our playlist of Cathedrals and Churches and other religious buildings though the site features many in other films 

The Cathedral of Palermo is located in the historical centre of Palermo and along with other churches was added as a UNESCO World Heritage site in 2015 being part of Arab- Norman Palermo. Its history goes back much further than when the Pope ordered the Norman Roger 2nd to take Arab Sicily in exchange for a Godly crown as King in 1072. That was after the Norman invasion of Italy in 1038 and the UK in 1066. It was built in 1184 by the Normans on the site of a Muslim Mosque that had been built over a Christian Basilica. It is a wonderful mix of styles and there is a passage from the Koran engraved on one of the columns. It was important to make this cathedral so impressive because it had to be better than William II’s incredibly beautiful Cathedral of Monreale. As exaggerated as the beauty and architecture are the other cathedral still manages to be one of the 10 most visited sites in the world. That is the subject of a future film. Here, what was probably the first church that was built on this site or nearby is mentioned in a papal bull of Pope Leo the Great in 444 and in a letter to the Sicilian clergy of 447. In 592, Bishop Vittore had the church demolished to build a new Byzantine-type church on the ruins. During the Arab domination of Palermo, between 831 and 1072, the church was a mosque. The Gods can’t have been happy; an earthquake damaged the building on February 4, 1169. The bell tower and parts of the façade were affected badly. The divine punishment was blamed on the corruption in the city. The cathedral was re-built by Walter Ophamil, the Anglo-Norman archbishop of Palermo, during the reign of William II of Sicily, and it was consecrated on April 6, 1185. Improvements during the 14th and 15th centuries saw the four corner towers erected, the western portal and the altar of St. Peter… in the 16th century, the marble tribune in the central apse, the Northern portal and a clock was added to the south-eastern tower… in the 17th century, the Chapel of Santa Rosalia was completed, which houses an urn containing her mortal remains: the Patron Saint of Palermo who lived as a hermit in a cave on Mount Pellegrino but appeared to a sick woman in Palermo during the plague of 1624, then to a Hunter who she told to climb a mountain, get her bones from the cave and bring them to the city… the rest is … in the 18th century, the interior was radically remodelled during restructuring. in the 19th century, other work was done after the 1823 earthquake. Go on a Sunday if you wish to attend mass, do not go on a Sunday if you wish to see restricted areas that are closed for services. Admission to the church area is free, but there is a charge for the Tombs, Roof, Treasury, and Crypts. There is a menu to the pricing so only buy what you want to see. It is not expensive. It is open Monday to Saturday from 9.00- 17.30. Sunday the Royal Tombs are only open from 9.00-13.00

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A trip not on the maps is one to the village of Monreale. What makes this important is that when the Arabs took Sicily in 831, this is where the Bishop of Palermo fled to and built a church. Monreale now has one of the world’s most stunning architectural treasures: the Duomo. The small village is in the hills overlooking Palermo. It is about an hour and a half by bus 100 or 118. In 1174 reconstruction was started 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. It is one of the world’s ten most visited monuments. 

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