MONREALE. Originally an Arab village, this small town grew up round the Cathedral built by William II in 1174. It is the most beautiful Norman church in Sicily and one of the most fabulous architectural works of the Middle Ages. The three-arch arcade in the facade, however, dates from the 18° century.
We should start our visit by walking round the outside of the church to admire the three apses, with their warm brownish hue, the finest architectural part of the building. We enter the church through the main portal with bronze doors by Bonanno Pisano (1186), or through the side portal with bronze doors of the same period, and no less beautiful, by Barisano da Trani. The stately interior, which rest on 18 columns from Roman temples, is adorned with the most magnificent mosaics in Southern Italy, representing the whole cycle of the Old and New Testaments, and converging on the enormous figure of Christ (Pantocrator) in the apse. To conclude, we must visit the enchanting Cloister.