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What to do in Monreale in Sicily?

A few kilometers from Palermo, this lovely little town that was built entirely around its cathedral. Today I take you to discover what to do in charming Monreale, Sicily.


What to do in Monreale in Sicily?

Close to the Sicilian capital, Palermo, we find a small town full of charm, which mixes simplicity and grandeur in the right measure: Monreale. Famous all over the world, Monreale was all built around its greatest gem: its incredible, and stunningly beautiful, Duomo! In Arab-Norman style, this Cathedral is incredible, but the city offers us a little more to know in terms of cultural history and, therefore, today we are going to learn what to do in Monreale in Sicily? Here at  Your Travel to Italy with Ana Patricia  you make the trip of your dreams !!! ALSO: see our  “Accommodation in Italy – Tips for your holidays!”

Watch this video with beautiful images of Monreale!

(Source: Ttvtraveller)

Our Introduction

When we talk about Sicily, it is not difficult for some cities to come to our mind. Among them, the main ones always end up being Palermo and Catania, however the Sicilian region offers us many other gems that are worth knowing and one of them is, without a doubt, Monreale. Also read: Discover Sicilian Enogastronomy.

What to see in Monreale besides the Duomo?

Well, as we said earlier Monreale is famous for its Duomo – which we will see later – however, the city presents us with other attractions that are not so famous, but very interesting. Monreale is not a big city and, therefore, it can be visited without any problem in half a day, but if you want to take it easy, I suggest you arrive there in the morning and stay until sunset. Find out here five Reasons To Include Sicily In Your Itinerary

From Palermo: Half-Day Tour to Monreale and Cefalù

Explore the Norman Cathedral of Monreale on the slopes of Monte Caputo, Sicily, on this 6-hour tour from Palermo. Head to historic Cefalù and learn about the city’s Greek origins. Visit the Mandralisca Museum, the Duomo and much more.

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One of these attractions worth visiting is Piazza Vittorio Emanuele II, which offers a beautiful view of the famous cathedral. There you can also admire the Triton Fountain, which is a work by Mario Rutelli. Another point that deserves attention is the Belvedere. The Belvedere di Monreale offers us a beautiful view of the Conca d’Oro and the city of Palermo, very charming!


For a splendid view of Monreale, head to the village of San Martino Le Scale. We are talking about a hill over 500 meters high from where you can also enjoy the fresh air and visit the beautiful 13th century Benedictine monastery that stands at the top of the hill.

It is also in Monreale that you will find the famous AcquaPark, the largest water park in Sicily. The park has 22,000 square meters of pools and slides and is the perfect destination for those with children.

3) What to do in Monreale in Sicily? VISIT THE CATHEDRAL OF SANTA MARIA NUOVA

The Cathedral of Santa Maria Nuova is part of the UNESCO World Heritage List and is considered one of the most important medieval churches in the entire world. That’s because it brings together different styles and an impressive structural originality. Take a guided tour of the Cathedral, click here to learn more!

Monreale Cathedral is of incomparable architectural beauty! The Byzantine mosaics present there delight our eyes without the slightest effort, the Arab and Baroque decorations, the stories and legends about this church and its grandeur dominate the entire city, which, not for nothing, was built all around the church.

Some Legends of the Cathedral

One of the legends says that the church was built by the king shortly after the apparition of Our Lady there; another legend says that the construction was ordered by William II and that its objective was to “compete” with the Cathedral of Palermo, thus confirming its “superiority”.

Some even say that it was built by a competition between two architect brothers:

One responsible for the design of the Cathedral of Monreale and the other for the Cathedral of Palermo, but one judged the work of the other to be far superior to his own and, in the end, both would have committed suicide. Whatever the origin, the works on the Duomo de Monreale began in 1174 and ended ten years later; over the centuries the church underwent expansions and renovations to reach what we see today.

The magnificent exterior of Monreale Cathedral

The facade of Monreale Cathedral is a grand sight! With imposing square bell towers, one taller than the other, the 18th century portico in white marble stands out, all decorated with pointed arches intertwined with polychrome inlays.

At the entrance of this portico there is a bronze door from 1185, but the door is not the main entrance anymore, today it is entered through a side door. The facade is beautiful, but don’t forget to walk around the church: it’s impressive, especially the back!

The interior of Monreale Cathedral and its stunning beauty

The interior of the magnificent cathedral! It is 102 meters long, has a Latin cross plan, and three naves that culminate in different apses. The magnificent central nave is three times the size of the aisles and is separated from them by two rows of nine columns. All the columns are in Corinthian style, in gray granite, however you will notice that one of them is made of cipollino marble, a less noble material, and symbolizes the simplicity of the church.

The Cathedral Ceiling

The ceiling of the place is beautiful: made of polychrome wood, it catches our attention. The royal throne and archiepiscopal throne are richly decorated and are located to the right and left before the royal sarcophagi of the presbytery, which are those of William I and Guglielmo II.

The Byzantine Mosaics

The Byzantine mosaics present there are the real attraction of Monreale Cathedral! These mosaics are, in fact, some of the most important Byzantine-style mosaics in the world, along with those present in the Church of Hagia Sophia in Istanbul. They are distributed in a logical manner that have deep religious significance. These mosaics cover an area of over 6,000 square meters and run through history from creation to the Last Judgment.

The mosaic decoration of Monreale Cathedral is the largest in Italy and was carried out in the late 1100s by a team of Byzantine mosaicists flanked by artists from other schools. They have a square shape of 47×47 and are surrounded by arches supported by more than 200 columns decorated in relief with motifs of animals, flowers and leaves.

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What to do in Monreale in Sicily? Fall in love! Monreale is the kind of city that offers us peace of mind, beauty, history and culture in the right measure to make us never forget this very special city!

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