Cathedral of Palermo

Four years ago we visited the cathedral only outside. this time we want to go inside. The monstrous building has been reconstructed all the time. Originally it was a christian church which has been changed into a mosque during the reign of the Arabs.  Then the Normanns created the cathedral. Several later generations didn’t like the outcome and changed it again and again.

The Cathedral has a  “heliometer” (solar “observatory”) of 1690, one of a number built in Italy in the 17th and 18th centuries. The device itself is quite simple: a tiny hole in one of the minor domes acts as  Pinhole Camera, projecting an image of the sun onto the floor at solar noon (12:00 in winter, 13:00 in summer). There is a bronze line, the Meridian on the floor, running precisely N/S. The ends of the line mark the positions as at the summer and winter solstices; signs of the zodiac show the various other dates throughout the year.

In dark red porphyrus sarkophagi are the remains of the most important Norman and German emperors and kings of Sicily like Frederico II., his father Henry VI., Roger II.(father of Frederico’s mother and first king of Sicily), Konstanze of Sicily (wife of Henry VI. and mother of Frederico) as well as Konstanze of Aragon, the wife of Frederico.

In the crypta are the sarkophagi of the archbishops of Palermo displayed. Partly they used Roman sarkophagi.

The treasures deisplayed in the treasure room are enormous.

The most important piece is the tiara of Konstance of Aragon given by Frederico II. and buried with her.

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