The Cathedral of Palermo, in Italian “Maria Santissima Assunta” (in German “Most holy Mary taken into heaven”), also known as the “Norman Cathedral” because of its origin, is particularly worth a visit.
The history of the cathedral is an example of the eventful history of Sicily. Where already in the 6th century a first cathedral had been built, which the Arabs later converted into a mosque, the Normans had a new, ie the current cathedral, built in 1184/85.
They were followed by German Staufer emperors, who found their crypt in the cathedral. In the later centuries the church experienced even more extensions, which can be found on the building today.
Originally built in the Norman-Arabic style as a fortified church, the corner towers in the 14th century. received a Gothic essay. In the 18th century In addition, a dome was built on the cathedral.
But there are still enough Arabic inscriptions as inlays, which point to the Arabic heritage. And the external shape of the nave and towers also suggests the original Norman builders.
Unfortunately, in the 18th century. the entire interior of the church was reworked in the classical style that was customary at the time. But there are still evidence of an older time such as marble statues of the Madonna from the 15th century.
And there are also the graves of two German emperors: Heinrich VI. and Friedrich II. Both Hohenstaufen ruled over Sicily and are buried here (also Friedrich’s wife Konstanze).
Those with a sense of culture and history will be richly rewarded with a visit to the Cathedral of Palermo. The former importance of Sicily as Italy’s granary can be seen in the magnificent building and its eventful history.
The surrounding region is also very scenic – so it is also worth visiting this piece of earth, which in its history was Roman, Arabic, Norman, French – and also once German.
A study tour of Tuscany is not complete without seeing the Cattedrale di Santa Maria del Fiore. One of the most famous churches in Italy and the third largest in the world is an architectural masterpiece of the early Renaissance and shapes the cityscape of Florence with its imposing dome to this day.
Art history turned to stone
The Florence Cathedral was started in 1296 and was not completed until 1887. This long construction period, which is due to the fact that the already finished facade was felt to be old-fashioned and was torn down again in the 16th century, allows today’s visitors a glimpse through the centuries. In addition, great artists from the Renaissance onwards gather in the cathedral. The widely visible campanile was started by Giotto and completed more than twenty years after his death. Today the cathedral is considered to be a building with a monumental dome that harmoniously combines elements of the Gothic and Renaissance periods.
The dome as the high point of Renaissance architecture
Designed by the outstanding architect Brunelleschi with the enormous dimensions of 107 meters high and 45 meters in diameter, the dome hovers almost weightlessly over the chancel. The huge fresco, begun by Vasari and completed by Zuccari, seems rather unsuccessful to the visitor, as the details of the painting are too small to be seen from the ground, and the dome is visually enormous due to the rather dark painting loses. During the last renovation in 1995, however, previously unseen subtleties were recognized and the fresco was re-evaluated by art historians.
The Milan Cathedral is one of the most impressive sacred buildings on earth. The construction of the cathedral “Santa Maria Nascente” began as early as 1388 and was not finished until almost 500 years later, in 1965. A huge, five-aisled marble church with a total length of 157 m and a height of 109 m was built on an area of 11,000 m².
The Milan Cathedral is one of the most important Gothic buildings in Italy, but due to the extremely long construction time under various architects, the facade also shows Baroque and neo-Gothic Elements. The up to 23 m high stained glass windows and more than 4,000 guglia and statues on the roofs of the cathedral are particularly striking.
Visit the Milan Cathedral
The cathedral is located in the historic center of Milan, on Cathedral Square, which was designed in the 19th century. Even the exterior facade made of white marble is extremely impressive. The cathedral is open every day and is just as interesting for those taking part in religious study trips as it is for tourists from all over the world who are enthusiastic about architecture. The Milan Cathedral is a house of silence and an important sacred meeting place, so the visit should be done in appropriate clothing (no shorts or tank tops) and with the cell phone switched off.
Multilingual group tours through the main nave with the side aisles and two sacristies and the crypt are offered for a fee. Believers and individuals do not pay admission. There is a fee to visit the cathedral treasury, the baptistery and the archaeological collection. Particularly popular with tourists is the also chargeable climb up 200 steps to the 8,000 m² roof terrace of the building, from which a fantastic view over the city to the Alps opens up.