Magnificent Monreale

Wednesday, 12 June 2013

The little town of Monreale is a must-do if you are in Northern Sicily. Unlike the much-hyped and tourist infested historic towns that we are all familiar with, Monreale had an air of discreetness and calm. Whilst considered part of the Palermo commune, Monreale could not be more different than its urbane sister. The little town has much to offer including the most magnificent cathedral interiors I've ever seen but it isn't demanding; it only takes a day trip from Palermo to soak in this rich historic and serene place.


There is something primal and true about first impressions. My first impression of Monreale cathedral (possibly one of the finest Norman Cathedrals in the world) was one of sheer awe. I've been fortunate enough to visit some of the most beautiful buildings and churches in the world and yet not one of these have had quite the same effect as Monreale. It wasn't just me. Not a soul in the cathedral looked unmoved. The rich mosaics that acted out myriad biblical tales were so magnificent and exquisitely beautiful. A lady nearby waved her hand as if tracing the path of each mosaic. If it weren't for her complete immersion in the act, I would have tapped on her the shoulder to find out more. Entry to the cathedral is free and you can easily spend a few hours just in here. You could also go up to the top of the cathedral for splendid views of the area for € 2.

Adjoining the cathedral is the Benedictine cloister which is also a very unique structure with Norman and Arab architectural influences. Each column on the cloister building is covered in unique gold inlaid aesthetically pleasing mosaics. You don't need much time in the cloister as there isn't that much to see but it is worth a quick visit.The entry to the cloister is € 6 and whilst this seems a lot for little, remember you are getting to visit the cathedral for free!

Whilst walking around Monreale, you will be able to take in some stunning views of the Palermo valley, more amazing architecture with Norman, Byzantine and Arab influences, quaint little shops and cafes and sometimes even markets selling local produce.You don't need very long in Monreale but it is well worth the trek from wherever you are. It costs less than € 2 for a 30 minute bus ride from Palermo (with a couple of changes and potential delays due to unreliable public transport) or
€ 25 per person if you go for the Palermo city tour bus.

 Have you been to Sicily or Monreale? And, has there been a place that inspired you like Monreale cathedral did to me? Ann x

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Photography by Edward Chandler


  1. oh wow, cannot wait to go to Sicily, it's at the top of my travel list.



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