March 5, 2017

1267, 1327, 1906, 2964, 2972 ITALY (Sicily) - Arab-Norman Palermo and the cathedral churches of Cefalù and Monreale (UNESCO WHS)

1906 Sicily - Church of San Cataldo in Palermo

Posted on 03.10.2014, 08.11.2014, 19.09.2015, 27.02.2017, 05.03.2017
Located on the northern coast of Sicily, Arab-Norman Palermo includes a series of nine civil and religious structures dating from the era of the Norman kingdom of Sicily (1130-1194): two palaces, three churches, a cathedral, a bridge, as well as the cathedrals of Cefalú and Monreale. Collectively, they are an example of a social-cultural syncretism between Western, Islamic and Byzantine cultures on the island which gave rise to new concepts of space, structure and decoration. They also bear testimony to the fruitful coexistence of people of different origins and religions (Muslim, Byzantine, Latin, Jewish, Lombard and French).

1267 Sicily - The Cathedral-Basilica of Cefalù

Located on the central Piazza Bellini in Palermo, the Church of San Cataldo is annexed to that of Santa Maria dell'Ammiraglio. Founded around 1160 by admiral Majone di Bari, in the 18th century the church was used as a post office. In the 19th century it was restored and brought back to a form more similar to the original Medieval edifice. It has a rectangular plan with blind arches, partially occupied by windows. The ceiling has three characteristics red, bulge domes (cubole) and Arab-style merlons. The interior has a nave with two aisles. The naked walls are faced by spolia columns with Byzantine style arcades.

2972 Sicily - The cloister of the abbey of Monreale (1)

Located on the northern coast of Sicily, Cefalù deserves noted mainly for its Cathedral, begun in 1131, in a style of Norman architecture, which would be more accurately called Sicilian Romanesque. According to tradition, the building was erected after a vow made to the Holy Saviour by the King of Sicily, Roger II, after he escaped from a storm. The Cathedral was consecrated in 1267. The exterior is well preserved, and is largely decorated with interlacing pointed arches. On each side of the façade is a massive tower of four storeys.

1327 Sicily - The cloister of the abbey of Monreale (1)

The interior of the cathedral was restored in 1559, though the pointed arches of the nave, borne by ancient granite columns, are still visible; and the only mosaics preserved are those of the apse and the last bay of the choir; they are remarkably fine specimens of the Byzantine art of the period (1148) and, though restored in 1859-1862, have suffered much less than those at Palermo and Monreale from the process. The figure of the Christ Pantocrator gracing the apse is especially noteworthy.

2964 Sicily - Mosaic of Christ Pantocrator
in the apse of the Cathedral of Monreale

Located 15km south of Palermo, on the slope of Monte Caputo, overlooking the very fertile valley called La Conca d'oro (the Golden Shell), Monreale was for a long time a mere village, and started its expansion when the Norman Kings of Sicily chose the area as their hunting resort. Under King William II the large monastery of Benedictines coming from Cava de' Tirreni, with its church, was founded. The Cathedral of Monreale, one of the greatest extant examples of Norman architecture in the world, was begun in 1174 by William II, and in 1182 the church was elevated to the rank of a metropolitan cathedral.

Enlightened, tolerant and appreciative of many aspects of North African and middle-eastern culture and art, the king employed the very best Arabic and Byzantine, as well as Normans craftsmen to work on the cathedral. The result is a fascinating fusion of architectural styles, artistic traditions and religious symbolism. The archiepiscopal palace and monastic buildings on the south side were surrounded by a precinct wall, crowned by twelve towers. This has been mostly rebuilt, but now remained only the ruins of some of the towers, a great part of the monks' dormitory and frater, and the splendid cloister, completed about 1200 and well preserved.

The cathedral has arches decorated with diaper work, supported on pairs of columns in white marble, 216 in all. The marble capitals are each carved with foliage, biblical scenes and allegories, no two being alike. The undisputed highlight of the cathedral is its richly mosaiced interior, very well preserved. Dating from the 12th and 13th centuries, the golden mosaics completely cover the walls of the nave, aisles, transept and apse, being exceeded in size only by the one of Hagia Sofia in Istanbul. In the apse is a magnificent portrait of Christ Pantocrator, gestures in blessing and gazes serenely off to one side.

About the stamps
On the postcars 1267 and 1327
About the stamp I wrote here.

On the postcard 1906
The stamp are part of the series Parks, Gardens and Botanic Gardens, issued on August 12, 2015. It contains four stamps, all with the same face value (0,95 EUR):
• The Botanical Garden, Trieste
• The Vulci Archaeological Naturalistic Park
• Alpine Botanical Garden of Campo Imperatore - It's on the postcard  1906
• Asinara National Park

On the postcards 2964 and 2974
The stamps are part of a series of GPS stamp, about which I wrote here. 

Arab-Norman Palermo and the cathedral churches of Cefalù and Monreale - UNESCO official website
Cefalù Cathedral - Wikipedia
Monreale - Wikipedia
The stunning Norman cathedral of Monreale, Sicily, Italy - The Thinking Traveller
Cappella Palatina - Wikipedia

Sender 1267, 1327, 2964, 2972: Ana
1267: Sent from Palermo (Sicily / Italy), on 17.09.2014
1327: Sent from Palermo (Sicily / Italy) on 13.09.2014
Photo 1327: Enzo Lo Verso
2964: Sent from Monreale (Sicily / Italy), on 24.12.2016
2972: Sent from Monreale (Sicily / Italy), on 24.12.2016 
Sender 1906: Marius Vasilescu
1906: Sent from Palermo (Sicily / Italy), on 14.09.2015
Photo 1906: Giovanni Simeone


  1. Just for know, this church is included in the UNESCO Tentative list:

  2. Danut,

    Pentru acuratete :-) :

    Vederea pe care tu ai numerotat-o cu nr. 2964 este cu imaginea lui Cristo Pantocrator din Il Doumo din Monreale, dupa cum scrie si pe fata cartii postale, si nu din Palermo.

    In Capella Palatina a Palatului Normanzilor (Palazzo Reale) din Palermo este un tot figura maiestuoasa a lui Cristo Pantocrator, oferind bunecuvantari.

    Una este insa in Palermo, cealalta in Monreale, 2 locuri diferite si inconfundabile. (Palermo este diferit de Monreale - si vice-versa - cam cum Sicilia este diferita de Italia - si vice-versa- :-) ).

    Felul in care Cristo Pantocrator este ilustrat in ambele locuri este aseamanator, dar exista o diferenta notabila data de felul in care degetele mainii drepte cu care este ilustrata binecuvantarea sunt pozitionate. :-)In plus, in domul din Monreale impunatorul mozaic al lui Cristo Pantocrator masoara 13m in lungime si 7m in latime, fiind cel mai mare de acest fel. (Un alt Cristo Pantocrator este in domul din Cefalu.)

    In Capella Palatina din Palermo nu am reusit inca sa ajung (desi aceasta a fost a 3-a oara cand am ajuns in Palermo), dar data urmatoare este obiectivul nr. 1.

    Toate cele bune!


    1. Mulţumesc. Am citit despre mozaicurile din catedralele din Cefalu si Montreale si din capela din Palermo, m-am lămurit care-s diferenţele şi le-am identificat, numai că a trebui să întrerup lucrul la postare vreo două ore, iar când am reluat m-am grăbit şi le-am făcut varză. Acum am corectat. :D Bineînţeles, mulţumesc pentru cărţile poştale. Mi se pare curios că unele au ajuns în ianuarie, iar altele la sfârşitul lui februarie, fără ştampilă de plecare.

  3. Cu mult drag, Danut! Sper ca te bucura aceste carti postale. Ti-am promis ca iti voi trimite de fiecare data cand plec din tara si pentru mine este important sa fac ceea ce spun. Asadar, nu a existat exceptie pana acum. Despre ce s-a intamplat cu aceste carti postale puse in cutiile postale sau la sediul postei italiene din Catania in perioada cat am fost in Sicilia (19-24.12.2016) nici eu nu pot intelege. Am trimis si altor prieteni care fie nu le-au primit deloc pana acum, fie le-au primit extrem de haotic, exact asa cum spui si tu: la 2 luni de cand ele au fost trimise, inca mai sosesc si au sau nu au stampila postei. Am incetat de mult sa ma mai intreb cum functioneaza posta de la noi sau din alte tari. In aprilie 2013 cand am fost in Spania, in Andalusia, si cand la avut probleme cu cartile postale pe care ti le-am trimis am facut atatea sesizari extern si intern incat cineva chiar mi-a spus ca se mira ca nu am sesizat si Comisia Europeana legat de faptul ca nu ajung. :)) In decembrie 2015 am trimis carti postale din Belgia pentru colegi de serviciu si 2 au ajuns, 2 nu au ajuns, desi persoanele erau la acelasi etaj. Deranjant... Acum, cu cele din Sicilia, s-a repetat povestea: unele au ajuns, altele nu. Incurcate sunt caile...postei. :-)

    1. Sigur că mă bucură fiecare carte poştală. În ceea ce priveşte livrarea lor, mi-a spus un prieten postcrosser care lucrează de câţiva ani în Italia că sunt norocos că le-am primit pe cele trimise prin GPS, care e o companie privată, ca şi cea din Spania, şi funcţionează foarte prost. De altfel nu ştiu dacă ai văzut, cele din Spania au ştampilă de Malta.