Mosaics in the Cathedral of Monreale (1180s)

The cathedral of Monreale, above Palermo, was erected by King William II (1167/71-1189) in a royal park on the site of an earlier Greek church. Work on the structure and its decoration was largely completed by the death of the king in 1189. The church was consecrated to the Assumption of the Virgin.

The interior is impressive in its spaciousness and rich decor. Not only are there mosaics throughout, but also large antique columns with decorative capitals, marble paneling on the lower wall surfaces, and an ornamental floor in the sanctuary. The mosaics cover the upper portions of the walls of the sanctuary and the nave, in all a surface area of roughly 7.600 sq m. The Monreale Cathedral thus presents the most extensive mosaic decor in Italy, surpassing even Venice's San Marco.

The focus of the multifigured program is the main apse calotte with its half-figure of Christ Pantocrator, which far surpasses all the other figures in style. The main motif in the lower part of the apse is an enthroned Madonna and Child between archangels and apostles. The apse calottes hold large enthroned images of the apostles Peter and Paul, and the walls present scenes from their lives.

An extensive cycle on the life of Christ unfolds in three registers across the walls of the crossing and the transepts. The mosaic decoration continues in the nave where forty-two scenes from the Genesis are depicted in two registers. In the side aisles the mosaics depict Christ's miracles.

Preview Picture Data File Info Comment
Interior view
1180s
Mosaic
Cathedral, Monreale

1200*908
True Color
229 Kb



Sanctuary with main apse
1180s
Mosaic
Cathedral, Monreale

1000*1205
True Color
299 Kb



Sanctuary, main apse, calotte
1180s
Mosaic
Cathedral, Monreale

978*1200
True Color
292 Kb



Sanctuary, main apse (detail)
1180s
Mosaic
Cathedral, Monreale

1200*984
True Color
306 Kb



Sanctuary, north wall
1180s
Mosaic
Cathedral, Monreale

1000*1202
True Color
346 Kb



Sanctuary, south wall (detail)
1180s
Mosaic
Cathedral, Monreale

946*1200
True Color
299 Kb



Sanctuary, north wall (detail)
1180s
Mosaic
Cathedral, Monreale

948*1200
True Color
340 Kb



Sanctuary, south side arm, south wall (detail)
1180s
Mosaic
Cathedral, Monreale

942*1200
True Color
301 Kb



South transept, west wall (detail)
1180s
Mosaic
Cathedral, Monreale

900*1082
True Color
325 Kb



South transept, south wall (detail)
1180s
Mosaic
Cathedral, Monreale

1114*900
True Color
332 Kb



North transept, north wall (detail)
1180s
Mosaic
Cathedral, Monreale

1100*834
True Color
304 Kb



North transept, north wall (detail)
1180s
Mosaic
Cathedral, Monreale

1200*891
True Color
326 Kb



Nave, centre aisle, south wall (detail)
1180s
Mosaic
Cathedral, Monreale

1051*1050
True Color
297 Kb



Nave, centre aisle, south wall (detail)
1180s
Mosaic
Cathedral, Monreale

1057*1000
True Color
295 Kb



Nave, centre aisle, south wall (detail)
1180s
Mosaic
Cathedral, Monreale

1067*1000
True Color
293 Kb



Nave, centre aisle, south wall (detail)
1180s
Mosaic
Cathedral, Monreale

1200*798
True Color
277 Kb



Nave, centre aisle, south wall (detail)
1180s
Mosaic
Cathedral, Monreale

1246*800
True Color
293 Kb



Nave, centre aisle, south wall (detail)
1180s
Mosaic
Cathedral, Monreale

1300*774
True Color
310 Kb



Nave, centre aisle, south wall (detail)
1180s
Mosaic
Cathedral, Monreale

1210*900
True Color
318 Kb



Nave, centre aisle, south wall (detail)
1180s
Mosaic
Cathedral, Monreale

1253*900
True Color
346 Kb



Nave, centre aisle, south wall (detail)
1180s
Mosaic
Cathedral, Monreale

1300*777
True Color
315 Kb



Nave, centre aisle, south wall (detail)
1180s
Mosaic
Cathedral, Monreale

1019*900
True Color
272 Kb



Nave, centre aisle, south wall (detail)
1180s
Mosaic
Cathedral, Monreale

990*1100
True Color
341 Kb



Nave, centre aisle, south wall (detail)
1180s
Mosaic
Cathedral, Monreale

1300*775
True Color
324 Kb



Nave, centre aisle, west wall
1180s
Mosaic
Cathedral, Monreale

900*1103
True Color
346 Kb



Nave, centre aisle, north wall (detail)
1180s
Mosaic
Cathedral, Monreale

1044*1001
True Color
293 Kb



Nave, centre aisle, north wall (detail)
1180s
Mosaic
Cathedral, Monreale

1099*950
True Color
297 Kb



Nave, centre aisle, north wall (detail)
1180s
Mosaic
Cathedral, Monreale

1039*950
True Color
275 Kb



Nave, centre aisle, north wall (detail)
1180s
Mosaic
Cathedral, Monreale

1050*600
True Color
209 Kb



Nave, centre aisle, north wall (detail)
1180s
Mosaic
Cathedral, Monreale

867*1100
True Color
295 Kb



Nave, centre aisle, north wall (detail)
1180s
Mosaic
Cathedral, Monreale

1200*804
True Color
303 Kb



Nave, centre aisle, north wall (detail)
1180s
Mosaic
Cathedral, Monreale

1144*850
True Color
300 Kb



Nave, centre aisle, north wall (detail)
1180s
Mosaic
Cathedral, Monreale

1300*771
True Color
326 Kb



Nave, north side aisle (detail)
1180s
Mosaic
Cathedral, Monreale

855*1200
True Color
322 Kb



Nave, south side aisle (detail)
1180s
Mosaic
Cathedral, Monreale

800*1125
True Color
323 Kb




Summary of Italian mosaics
Mosaics in Rome
San Clemente | Santa Maria in Trastevere | Santa Maria Maggiore
Mosaics in Sicily
Cathedral of Cefalů | Cappella Palatina, Palermo | Cathedral of Monreale
Mosaics in Venice
Basilica di San Marco
Mosaics in Florence
Battistero di San Giovanni (Baptistery)
Other mosaics
11th-12th centuries | 13th-14th centuries
Mosaicists
RUSUTI, Filippo | TORRITI, Jacopo | CAVALLINI, Pietro
CIMABUE | GIOTTO | GIAMBONO, Michele | ANDREA DEL CASTAGNO