Duomo di Cefalù

sights / Religious

Duomo di Cefalù information

Cefalù , Italy
Address
Street Piazza del Duomo
Telephone
+390 921 92 20 21
Opening hours
8am-7pm Apr-Sep, 8am-5pm Oct-Mar
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Lonely Planet review

Cefalù's cathedral is one of the jewels in Sicily's Arab-Norman crown, only equalled in magnificence by the Cattedrale di Monreale and Palermo's Cappella Palatina. Filling the central apse, a towering figure of Christ All Powerful is the focal point of the elaborate Byzantine mosaics – Sicily's oldest and best preserved, predating those of Monreale by 20 or 30 years.

In his hand, a compassionate-looking Christ holds an open Bible bearing a Latin and Greek inscription from John 8:12: 'I am the light of the world; he who follows me shall not walk in darkness.' Other mosaic groups include the Virgin with Four Archangels dressed as Byzantine officials.

The 16 interior columns with Roman capitals probably came from the Tempio di Diana on La Rocca.

Legend tells us that the cathedral was built by Roger II in the 12th century to fulfil a vow to God after his fleet was saved during a violent storm off Cefalù. In fact, it was more likely the result of Roger's tempestuous relationship with the Palermitan archbishopric. Eager to curb the growing influence of the papacy in Sicily (with whom the Palermo archbishopric had close ties), Roger thought that building a mighty church so far from Palermo would prove an effective reminder of his power across the island and pose a disincentive to any potential usurpers. It's thus hardly surprising that the cathedral's architecture is distinctly fortress-like.

You can enjoy the view of the cathedral's soaring twin pyramid towers, framed by La Rocca, over a morning coffee or evening aperitif in the Piazza del Duomo.