Pick up at your hotel and depart to Monreale: visit the Cathedral and the Benedectine Cloister. The Cathedral of Monreale is one of the greatest extant examples of Norman architecture in the world. It was begun in 1174 by William II, and in 1182 the church, dedicated to the Assumption of the Virgin Mary, was, by a bull of Pope Lucius III, elevated to the rank of a metropolitan cathedral. The church is a national monument of Italy and one of the most important attractions of Sicily.
The archiepiscopal palace and monastic buildings on the south side were of great size and magnificence, and were surrounded by a massive precinct wall, crowned at intervals by twelve towers. This has been mostly rebuilt, and but little now remains except ruins of some of the towers, a great part of the monks’ dormitory and frater, and the splendid cloister, completed about 1200.
Continue to Palermo: visit the Palatine Chapel inside the Royal Palace. The chapel was commissioned by Roger II of Sicily in 1132 to be built upon an older chapel (now the crypt) constructed around 1080. It took eight years to build and many more to decorate with mosaics and fine art. The sanctuary, dedicated to Saint Peter, is reminiscent of a domed basilica. It has three apses, as is usual in Byzantine architecture, with six pointed arches (three on each side of the central nave) resting on recycled classical columns.
The mosaics of the Palatine Chapel are of unparalleled elegance as concerns elongated proportions and streaming draperies of figures. They are also noted for subtle modulations of colour and luminance. The oldest are probably those covering the ceiling, the drum, and the dome. The shimmering mosaics of the transept, presumably dating from the 1140s and attributed to Byzantine artists, illustrate scenes from the Acts of the Apostles. Every composition is set within an ornamental frame, not dissimilar to that used in contemporaneous mosaic icons. Continue to visit the Cathedral as well as a panoramic tour of the city.