Wordtravels

Wordtravels

Monreale Cathedral

Of all the many architecturally beautiful and fascinating places of worship in Palermo, the most renowned is the 12th-century cathedral in the suburb of Monreale, high on the mountain slope, about five miles (8km) from the city centre. This dazzling cathedral is a mixture of Arab, Byzantine and Norman artistic styles, a blend of medieval Christian and Muslim architecture. The magnificent mosaics that cover 68,243 square feet (6,340 sq metres) of the cathedral's dome and all of the walls on the interior are unsurpassed and people travel from far and wide to study and admire them. The adjacent Benedictine abbey features a cloister with 228 carved stone columns, many inlaid with mosaics depicting scenes from Sicily's Norman history. For €1 you can buy a schematic of the mosaics from the stall at the main entrance, which explains the biblical and historical scenes depicted; having this guide, or doing some research before arriving, is advised because there is so much of interest going on in the intricate and extensive mosaics - some visitors even make a point of bringing binoculars to examine them properly. Entrance to the breathtaking cathedral is free, but there are small admission charges for the Treasury, Cloisters and Terraces, all of which are well worth exploring.

Address: Piazza Vittorio Emanuele, Monreale

Telephone: +39 91 640 4413

Transport: Bus 389 from the Piazza Indipendenza in Palermo (journey takes about 20 minutes); and other buses heading west from Palermo, such as Bus 819

Opening times: The cathedral: Open daily from 8am to 6pm; The cloisters: Open from 9am to 6pm (Monday to Saturday), 9am to 1.30pm (Sundays and public holidays)