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Visit Cefalu Cathedral

Cefalu is a beautiful coastal town in Italy and the stunning Byzantine mosaics of its cathedral are a highlight of the town. Cefalu cathedral is situated in Piazza Duomo (Cathedral Square) about 250 meters inland of the coast. Cefalu is on the north coast of Sicily between Palermo and Milazzo.

Explore Cefalu Cathedral

Sicily Visitor comment: The Byzantine mosaics of Cefalu Cathedral as well as Monreale Cathedral, the Palatine Chapel in Palermo and the Chiesa della Martorana church in Palermo turned out to be some of our favourite sights of our Sicily visit.

Cefalu Cathedral was built in 1130 in Norman style under orders from King Roger II. It was apparently built here because King Roger promised God he would build a church if he was saved from a storm. He subsequently landed on the beach at Cefalu and fulfilled his promise in building Cefalu cathedral.

Cefalu Cathedral

The cathedral is built in Norman style and is a simple but attractive style on the exterior with two towers, arched windows and doorways and a pattern of interlocking arches on its facade. Inside the cathedral has a very simple columned nave with a wooden roof but the eye is immediately drawn to the wonderful mosaics at the front of the church.

The dominant mosaic is the Christ Pantokrator on the main apse with his right hand raised in Benediction. In his left hand he holds the Gospel of Saint John open at Chapter 8 verse 12 written in Greek and Roman. "I am the light of the world, who follows me will not wander in the darkness but will have the light of life."

Below this is a depiction of the Virgin Mary flanked by four archangels. The wings of the archangels are beautifully depicted. Below are two tiers of apostles and evangelists. The mosaic decorations extend into the presbytery with depictions of prophets and saints and royal figures.

Roger II brought master mosaic makers from Constantinople and the mosaics of Christ and the Virgin Mary are considered to be the best Byzantine mosaics in Italy! The mosaics in the central apse were completed in the 12th century though those in the side walls of the presbyterium were not finished until the 17th century. 

The area around the mosaics has been decoarated in baroque style. When you have finished admiring the mosaics there is other artwork to note.

The 12th century baptisimal font is made of a single large piece of stone supported by four sculpted lions. There is a beautiful wooden painted cross by Guglielmo da Pesaro in the 15th century and a 16th century painting of the Madonna from Antonello Gagini's workshop.

Fourteen of the columns of the nave are made of pink granite and two are marble. The marble columns have decorated capitals and are thought to have come from a Roman temple.

Cefalu Cathedral

Roger II had two ornate sarcophogi created for himself and his wife but King Frederick II moved them to Palermo where Roger II is buried along with King Frederick II and other members of the Royal family.

Cefalu Cathedral is a listed UNESCO World Heritage Site as part of the Arab-Norman Palermo and the Cathedral Churches of Cefalù and Monreale.

Where to visit near Cefalu?

If you enjoyed the mosaics of Cefalu Cathedral be sure to visit the Cathedral of Monreale, the Palatine Chapel of Palermo and the Chiesa della Martorana church in Palermo. The cathedral of Palermo is a beautiful example of Arab-Norman architecture.

You can find more local travel ideas in the North Sicily guide and the guide.

See also:

Photos of Cefalu Cathedral

Click any picture to start the gallery

  • baroque-ceiling
  • cathedral-square
  • christ-pantocrator
  • columns
  • facade
  • interior
  • mosaics

Map of Cefalu Cathedral and places to visit

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