Monreale Cathedral

Monreale Cathedral

Date ca. 1180-90 CE

Movement Early Christian

Located at Palermo, Sicily, Italy


The Norman kings strove to prove themselves as mighty as the Byzantine imperials, so they employed a number of Eastern artists to decorate their structures. However, the Normans were set upon using the Western model of a longitudinal basilica; as such, the Byzantine artists would have adapted their traditional methods to fit such a space; here, Christ Pantocrator now resides within the apse ceiling, while registers of saints and other holy figures help to accentuate the nave’s horizon. Interestingly, the inscription to Christ’s right reads both in Latin and Greek (“I am the light of the world”). It was estimated that over 100 million individual tesserae pieces were used to cover the entire program of 1.5 acres of mosaic within the church.