Norman floors and Royal tombs
The North transept of the Cathedral of Monreale preserves the most extensive evidence of Norman mosaic pavement art. The decorative geometric patterns, the stylizations of animals such as hares and fish and the use of gold tiles on the floor show visitors the originally conceived plan, created here as a microcosm of gold, stone and light.
Royal tombs are preserved in this space: Margaret of Navarre, Mother of Good King William II and her sons Henry and Roger, who died prematurely. Moreover, after St. Louis IX King of France's death in the crusade of Tunis in 1270, his viscera and heart were brought to Monreale thanks to the initiative of King Charles of Anjou's brother.
The Crucifix Chapel
A splendid example of Sicilian Baroque style, the Crucifix Chapel was built between 1686 and 1692 at the behest of Archbishop John Roano. It is a true masterpiece for its vibrant intermixed marble polychromy and for the exceptional inlaid decorations on the walls and floor. All the pictures and allegorical depictions, with the Old Testament prophecies, announce the redemptive sacrifice of Christ on the Cross. On the floor the marble inlaids depict the scene of the prophet Jonah who, thrown into the sea to calm the storm, was swallowed by a large fish, dwelling in her belly three days and three nights, a clear Christological symbol of the Resurrection of Christ.
Above the altar, a medieval wood Crucifix hangs from the trunk and branches of a tree that is borne from King Jesse’s side, represented lying at its roots. The royal and Davidic descent of Jesus, which culminates with the Virgin Mary, is depicted through the family tree. The Archbishop Roano enriched the sacristy of the chapel with a wardrobe and a prie-dieu in carved walnut, a high-quality example of Trapani cabinetmaking, along with a mixed marble sink. In the sacristy precious vestments in silk, silver and gold, sacred furnishings in silver filigree, gems, coral, reliquaries and alabaster statuettes are preserved.