The terraces of the Cathedral
A staircase carved into the southern tower, where at various levels are exposed vestments and silvers of the rich treasure of the Cathedral, leads to the walkway that, at the top, runs almost entirely, the church.
Through an external passage, which runs down the southern aisle, you have a spectacular overview of the monastic complex whose center of community life, apart from the church, was the cloister, a square of more than forty meters on the side derived from the peristyle of the Roman “domus”, symbolic of Eden, Mary, the Church and Paradise to which the Christian must tend. It is compartmentalized into four sectors corresponding each to a biblical garden: the primordial Eden of Adam and Eve; that of the Song of Songs, foreshadowing of the Church; passion of Christ and the escatological one. All based on the symbolism of the number twelve, it has in the eastern corner a small cloister, outlined by three arches on the side, where it is a large bathtube, with functions of fountain and sink.
In the part of the walkway that runs internally to the thickness of the walls, various monophores open inside the building allowing a spectacular view from above of the space of the Sanctuary and mosaics.
At the top you have a panoramic view of the hollow that houses Palermo, once called golden, the "Conca d’oro" and you understand the orientation of the Church who wants to catch the sunrise and other moments of her journey, in relation to the liturgy.
It is also understood why the “absidi” are adorned with such greatness and wealth as elements immediately visible to those who walked the road, from Palermo, to reach the abbey.
On the northern aisle an external passage allows the enjoyment from the top of the large square that was once the clearing in front of the Royal Palace, now incorporated in the Town Hall and in the rear factories. The descent is from the tower of the north, which preserves the archives.