The  Cathedral

This magnificent and imposing religious building was erected on the site of the old cathedral, built by St Gregory the Great in 603, transformed into a mosque by the Arabs and reconsecrated to the Christian cult by the Norman kings. The present building was founded by Gualtiero Offamilio (Walter of the Mill), Archbishop of Palermo from 1168 to 1193, during the reign of the Norman king William II, known as the Good. Even though the original structures have remained unaltered throughout the centuries, the construction underwent several additions and alterations between the 14C and the 16C. Between 1781 and 1801 the architect Fernando Fuga transformed the Latin cross basilical plan adding the side aisles, the wings of the transept and the majestic dome. Since the days of its construction, the Cathedral has witnessed some of the most important events in the history of the city and of the entire island. Here the Norman and Swabian kings were crowned and buried in the Imperial Tombs. Here in the Santa Rosalia Chapel, the relics of the patron saint of the are contained in a sumptuous silver urn.

Three monumental tombs containing the mortal remains of Frederick II (d. 1250), Roger II (d. 1154) and his doughter the Empress Constance (d. 1198).

Tombs of Frederick II

Tombs of  Roger II

Tombs of  Constance of Aragonís

Constance of Aragonís gold tiara

Top: Constance of Aragonís gold tiara, decorated with gems, enamels and pearls, was found in her sepulchre and exhibited in the Treasury showcases.

The interior of the Cathedral was transformed between 1781 and 1801 and given its present neoclassical appearance. It has a Latin cross basilican plan, with a nave and two aisles divided by pillars; the archivolted interior incorporates granite columns from the pre-existing church. The nave is covered by a bright barrel vault and flanked by a row of marble statues of Saints placed on each pillar and in the transept.