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Comune di Monreale
Interior of Monreale Cathedral.
Interior of Monreale Cathedral.
Coat of arms of Monreale
Location of Monreale
Monreale is located in Italy
Location of Monreale in Italy
Monreale is located in Sicily
Monreale (Sicily)
Coordinates: 38°04′54″N 13°17′20″E / 38.08167°N 13.28889°E / 38.08167; 13.28889
Metropolitan cityPalermo (PA)
FrazioniAquino, Borgo Fraccia, Borgo Schirò, Cicio di Monreale, Giacalone, Grisì, Monte Caputo, Pietra, Pioppo, Poggio San Francesco, San Martino delle Scale, Sirignano, Sparacia, Tagliavia, Villaciambra
 • MayorAlberto Arcidiacono
 • Total530.18 km2 (204.70 sq mi)
310 m (1,020 ft)
 (31 October 2017)[2]
 • Total39,032
 • Density74/km2 (190/sq mi)
Time zoneUTC+1 (CET)
 • Summer (DST)UTC+2 (CEST)
Postal code
Dialing code091
Patron saintSt. Castrensis
Saint day11 February

Monreale (/ˌmɒnriˈæl/; Italian pronunciation: [monreˈaːle]; Sicilian: Murriali[3]) is a town and comune in the Metropolitan City of Palermo, in Sicily, southern Italy. It is located on the slope of Monte Caputo, overlooking the very fertile valley called "La Conca d'oro" (the Golden Shell), a production area of orange, olive and almond trees, the produce of which is exported in large quantities.[4] The town, which has a population of approximately 39,000, is about 7 kilometres (4 miles) inland (south) of Palermo, the regional capital.

Monreale forms its own archdiocese and is home to Monreale Cathedral, a historical Norman-Byzantine cathedral, one of several buildings named in a UNESCO World Heritage Site, a group of nine inscribed as Arab-Norman Palermo and the Cathedral Churches of Cefalù and Monreale.


After the occupation of Palermo by the Arabs (the Emirate of Sicily), the Bishop of Palermo was forced to move his seat outside the capital. The role of a cathedral was assigned to a modest little church, Aghia Kiriaki, in a nearby village later known as Monreale. After the Norman conquest in 1072, Christians took back the former Palermo cathedral. Probably the village's role as a temporary ecclesiastical centre played a part in King William II's decision to build a cathedral here.[5]

Monreale was a small village for a long time. When the Norman Kings of Sicily chose the area as their hunting resort, more people and commerce came to the area after the royalty built a palace (probably identifiable with the modern town hall).

Under King William II, a large monastery of Benedictines coming from Cava de' Tirreni, with its church, was founded and provided with large assets. The new construction also had an important defensive function. Monreale was the seat of the metropolitan archbishop of Sicily,[4] which from then on exerted a significant influence over Sicily.

In the 19th century, underage marriages, or those performed without the blessing of the bride's parents, were known as "the marriages of Monreale", according to Eliza Lynn Linton. These referred to marriages performed in remote places, where the law was less observed.[6] (see Gretna Green).

Main sights[edit]

Benedictine Monastery.
William II offering the Monreale Cathedral to the Virgin Mary, in the cathedral.
The cloister of the abbey of Monreale.

The Cathedral[edit]

The cathedral of Monreale is one of the greatest extant examples of Norman architecture. It was begun in 1174 by William II and completed four years later. In 1182 the church, dedicated to the Nativity of the Virgin Mary, was, by a bull of Pope Lucius III, elevated to the rank of a metropolitan cathedral.[4]

The church is a national monument of Italy and one of the most important attractions of Sicily. Its size is 102 metres long and 47 meters wide. The façade is characterized by two large towers (one partially destroyed by lightning in 1807) and a portal with Romanesque bronze doors decorated by Bonanno Pisano. The interior is on the Latin cross plan, divided by ogival arcades, and features fresco cycles executed during the reigns of William II and Tancred of Sicily (c. 1194). The cloister has 228 small columns, each with different decorations influenced by Provençal, Burgundian, Arab and Salerno medieval art.

Other sights[edit]

  • Castellaccio ("Bad Castle"), an example of a fortified convent on the Monte Caputo, at 764 m above sea level. It was built in the 12th century by King William II together with the Cathedral and the annexed monastery. It measures c. 80 x 30 m on an irregular plan with four towers on the western side, a middle tower and an entrance tower on the eastern side.
  • Abbey church of San Martino delle Scale, founded in the 6th century AD. It is on the Latin cross plan with a dome, a choir with paintings by Paolo De Matteis (1727), two small side apses, chapels in the transept and ten chapels in each of the aisles. The interior was decorated in 1602 with stuccoes. The baptismal font near the sacristy is from 1396.
  • Church of Collegiata (16th-19th centuries)
  • Church of Santa Ciriaca
  • Church of San Silvestro

International relations[edit]

Monreale is twinned with:

Notable people[edit]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Superficie di Comuni Province e Regioni italiane al 9 ottobre 2011". Italian National Institute of Statistics. Retrieved 16 March 2019.
  2. ^ "Popolazione Residente al 1° Gennaio 2018". Italian National Institute of Statistics. Retrieved 16 March 2019.
  3. ^ "Monreale" is a contraction of monte-reale, "royal mountain", so-called from a palace built here by Roger I of Sicily
  4. ^ a b c  One or more of the preceding sentences incorporates text from a publication now in the public domainChisholm, Hugh, ed. (1911). "Monreale". Encyclopædia Britannica. Vol. 18 (11th ed.). Cambridge University Press. p. 736.
  5. ^ Rodo Santoro: Palermo Cathedral,' Palermo: 1999, p. 7
  6. ^ Linton, Eliza Lynn (1885). Some Sicilian Customs (41 ed.). 'The Eclectic Magazine'. The church did not sanction marriage younger than these several ages [20 for men, 18 for women], save in exceptional cases; and anyone who assisted at the marriage of a girl below the age of 18, without the consent of her parents or guardians, was imprisoned for life and forfeited all he had. This law, however, was frequently broken in remote places, and especially about Palermo, where "the marriages of Monreale" have passed into a proverb. When a young girl, say of sixteen, marries and has a good childbirth, they say "She has been to Monreale".
  7. ^ "Bielsko-Biała - Partner Cities". 2008 Urzędu Miejskiego w Bielsku-Białej. Retrieved 2008-12-10.

External links[edit]