Duomo Monreale , also referred to as the Cathedral of Monreale, sits at height over the valley in which Palermo resides. The views of the city, the large natural port, and the surrounding urban and rural zones are expansive. Here’s a video with some good shots of the valley, taking you then to the Duomo and the adjacent cloisters.
The cathedral was built under the Norman King Guillermo II, who along with his brother is buried here in a coffin aside a petition near the altar. Legend would have it that he fell asleep beneath a tree in the nearby forest. In a dream, Mary told him to build a church here. They found treasure in the tree’s roots. The gold financed the project, which began in 1172. The result today is a UNESCO Heritage Site, one of Italy’s finest churches. It is in the Arabo-Norman Style, 102 x 40 meters in size. The interior is wall to ceiling in what I would call ‘late’ Byzantine style mosaics. The underlying drawings are a bit more realistic than what you might find in Orthodox churches. There is not a bare centimeter anywhere in the buliding. The floors are exquisitely formed patterns in marble. The arches are Moorish in style as is the external decor.
We were doing this and that in our apartment when we finally heard the procession going by. I managed to get a short video. The Mary had already gone around the corner so you can see it just from behind. You can hear the music, though it has been pretty much the same everywhere today, except for the opera singer we heard at a church.
Pechersk Lavra is also called the Kyiv Monastery of the Caves. It is an Orthodox Christian monastery located on the cliffs overlooking the Dnieper River in Kiev. There are extensive caves which were occupied by monks. There are beautiful church domes.
Giclee print (highest quality available), 12 x 16″, 30 x 40 cm, signed 1 of 100 $60
Unlimited edition, 12 x 16″, 30 x 40 cm, high quality paper, printed signature $35
Oratorio Santissimo Rosario in Santa Cita (1590) must be seen to be believed. This must be Serpotas’s masterpiece. He worked on it from 1687-1718. Every piece is a superb example of Baroque stucco art.
Here’s Peg’s video:
This one is professionally done so the lighting and contrast are excellent
An oratorio, per the informed young people at the front desk, is meeting place for decision makers of the Compagnia del Rosario di Santa Cita. This oratory exalts the intervention of the Madonna in the conflicts with the Moors.
We have friends in Haarlem, the Haarlem in the Nederlands, not the Harlem in New York City. We are going to meet them in May at a spot off the Ijsselmeer in the middle of nowhere. It’s where we first met them in 2000. It was their idea, and how charming of them to think of it! We met as we were docking our boat, they helped us get to the bank, and later invited us for Oranjebitter, a liquor made from oranges. This beverage is issued every year in honor of the monarch, still on the throne,
We met them again later that summer near their house. It was July. The Tall Ships were in Amsterdam on their annual circuit, which this year concluded here. Thousands of smaller boats joined in parades to the harbor. We joined K and A, their daughter M and her husband B in the latter’s boat for a trip to Amsterdam harbor in the twilight. There were hundreds of small craft doing the same. We were bumper to bumper, so to speak. When it was dark out came a large barge stuffed with fireworks as well as huge loud speakers. It was a great show! I am glad Kees was at the helm as it was a pitch black sail back to their harbor.
I joined with two other artists in Valencia to hire a model with whom we enjoyed working. She is able to hold long poses. Over three hours I painted her in acrylics and later added the clothing and background. I took as inspiration for the background the landscape paintings of Van Gogh, with a twist.
Oratorio della SS. Carita di San Piedro is a small church originally connected to a secular effort to raise funds for the ransom the religious abducted by pirates. The anteroom has outstanding frescoes by Guglielmo Borremans. One is “The escape of St. Peter from the Prison,” the other “The Glory of St. Peter.” There is also “Francis of Assisi,” “Achaio,” “Vincenzo de ‘Paoli,” and “Paolino.”
Oratorio della SS. Carita di San Piedro
Chiesa San Agostino
Construction on the Romanesque Chiesa San Agostino (Chiesa di Sant’Agostino) is locally known as Santa Rita. The building was built in the early 14th century . The rose window has 12 intersecting semi-circles and has an unusual trim that defines the entire otherwise plain facade. The Gothic portal features arabesques (abstract patterns) and plant motifs.
Chiesa de SS. Trinita de Maggione is an 11th century Arab-Norman Church located near the old port area, called La Cala, roughly equidistant from Vila Giulia, thus one of the oldest parts of Palermo. Next to it is where the family home of anti-Mafia hero Giovanni Falcone once stood. The church was built in 1191 near the end of the Norman era, over the remains of a mosque. Starting in 1192 the Cistercian order controlled the church. This order held that mosaics and decoration is a distraction interfering with worship, thus the church is rather bare. Yet it has a certain charm, and a tranquility from the stark contrast between the stone of the building and the green of the grass of the cloisters visible to the left, and the monks’ chants playing over the speakers.
King Tancredi, who ruled over Sicily 1189-94 buried his son Roger in the church and wanted to be buried in the Basilica as well.
As of 1492 the church was governed by one Rodrigo Borgia, from Valencia, who would later become Pope Alexander VI, one of two Spanish popes, both among the most corrupt. Perhaps things were not so tranquil then, given the expulsion of Moors and Jews, and the pleasantries of the Inquisition.
Necropoli Punica dates to between the city’s founding in 734 BCE as ‘Ziz’ (changed to Pánormos by the Greeks) in 734. The Necopolis on Corso Calatafimi has an excellent if somewhat technical narrative panel. You can walk into the dig and one level down into several burial sites. The site is behind the Norman Palace, placing it between the now diverted rivers Papimeto and Kemonia Rivers. (‘Punic’ refers to the Carthaginians, who were Phoenician in origin).
The panels discuss the ancient development of the city. The earliest description of the site dates to the 10th century, by an Arabic geographer. Archaeological digs show the first area settled to be nearby the Palazzo Normani. It then goes through the eastward expansion in the 6th c. BCE. They even discovered the unit of measure used in the layout – the cubit, 54 centimetes/21.3 inches.
Human remains were either inhumanted or cremated. Some remains were found in calcarenite (a type of limestone) slabs, simple trenches, others were laid out in underground tombs. They show you examples in the dig, including that of a 5-year-old girl. There are decorative motifs linked to the Egyptians, and an oinochoe, a large jar used to mix wine.
I should have brought my Indiana Jones hat – I felt the buzz going down these stairs:
Open the door and you are a greeted by an amazing display of Baroque art in a brightly lit interior. There are stuccoes by Paolo Corso and Giuseppe Serpotta. Frescoes in the nave and the vault by Tancredi, Borremans and Velasquez. They were severely damaged during WW2 but expertly restored. There is a wood crucifix by Fra’ Umile. Giacomo Besio of the Theatines order built the Chiesa di San Giuseppe dei Teatini at the beginning of the 17th century. It has a large a blue and yellow ceramic dome.