The Normans gave the Arab building a different touch creating therefore the Arab-Norman style which is one of a kind in Sicily. The cathedral of Palermo is an example of this style. It is a combination of battlements, cupolas tiled with majolica, geometric motifs and blind arches. In it other different features have been added to the Arab-Norman
style such as Catalan-Gothic
, Gothic and neoclassical ones.
The powerful tutor of William II had the imposing, enormous and splendorous cathedral built on the site of a 9th century mosque of which you still can see a column with inscriptions. The cathedral combines the Catalan-Gothic portico of three arches created by Gambara in the 15th century, the 18th century dome by Ferdinando Fuga, the 13th and 14th century façade and the precious gardens at the front. A late 13th century representation in Islamic fashion of a tree of life with human figures animals and fruit was discovered recently when there was some restoration been carried out above the arches.
The remains of Roger II, Frederick II of Hohenstaufen and a tooth belonging to Santa Rosalia
, one of Palermo’s patron saints are kept here. In the treasury is the crown locally made for Constance of Aragon created with gold and gems.
The Museo Diocesano, by the cathedral, keeps pieces of art such as paintings, sculptures, icons and parts of frescoes and mosaics rescued from the cathedral and churches damaged in the WWII. One room is devoted to pieces by Pietro Novelli
who was inspired by Van Dyck and Raphael’s’ style.