Church of San Cataldo in Palermo

Church of San Cataldo in Palermo
Church of San Cataldo in Palermo
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The Italian island of Sicily has been invaded throughout its history by numerous peoples and civilizations. The result of this is its peculiar culture, its language and also its architecture, where there is an incredible mix of influences. A good example of this are its buildings that fuse the forms of Arab and Norman art, resulting in a very peculiar Romanesque art. We have already seen some example of this, such as the Cathedral of Monreale. And today we are going to talk about another example, the church of San Cataldo in the Sicilian city of Palermo, which is no longer used today for worship, which doesn't detract from its interest one iota.

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Church of San Cataldo in Palermo

Historians place its construction in the middle of the 12th century, more specifically between the years 1154 and 1160, since it would be a temple sponsored by Admiral Maione de Bari, who would have the palace next to him (now disappeared), and would almost use the church of San Cataldo as a private chapel. Which he dedicated to a highly venerated saint in his native region of Apulia.

If you look at it from the outside, the building looks quite simple. It is a large parallelepiped, and only its three upper domes stand out, which stand on a drum, so barely visible from the street. An architecture that is very easily linked to Fatimid constructions of the 12th century.

On the outside soonly a few openings stand out, with slightly pointed arches and which correspond to the three interior naves. In addition to other windows in the apse area. Being all of them covered by lattices. On the other hand, the façade is also extremely simple with a large open doorway with an arch, also slightly pointed.

Couldn't be a simpler exterior. Something that continues on the interior walls, although not so much on the floor where the mosaic that covers it draws attention. That is if you look down, but when you reach the transept, your gaze is also directed towards the three domes of this space, all of them raised on a square base that has semi-domes on its corners that transform the shape into an octagon.

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Interior of San Cataldo

In short, it is a space with three naves and three apses dominated by simplicity. And despite its appearance of Arab atmosphere, it was conceived and used as a Christian church for centuries. Specifically from its foundation until 1787. On that date it was deconsecrated and from then on the property has had various uses. For example, it was a post office for a few years in the 19th century. By the way, the same century in which it was profoundly restored. Although it has never been used for religious purposes again, and today it is basically a tourist space in Palermo.

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