Mosaics and mosaic making information from The joy of shards Mosaics Resource

The cathedral and cloisters at Monreale, near Palermo, Sicily

The Norman cathedral (or Duomo) of Monreale, has one of the most spectacular displays of mosaics anywhere in the world. The building was begun in 1174 by William II, who was determined to overshadow the cathedral in Palermo that had been established by his English rival, Walter of the Mill. The mosaics were apparently completed within a space of 10 years, using Greek craftsmanship and designs showing strong Byzantine influences. The main themes are scenes from the Old and New Testaments of the Bible. These run in four rows, with two levels on each side of the nave. The apse is dominated by an enormous portrayal of Christ Pantocrator. To give an idea of the scale of this image, the little finger of Christ's outstretched right hand is about one metre long. The apse also has mosaics of the Madonna and child, and various saints and apostles. Two large chapels to the north and south of the apse are dedicated to Saint Paul and Saint Peter, with scenes from their lives. The floor of the cathedral has extensive Cosmati pavements, and the walls have beautiful inlay work. Outside in the cloisters, the colonnades have columns decorated with vivid geometric inlay spiralling up the columns. To see all of this, you can:

Cosmati flooring

The cloisters

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