View Map

Overview

Monreale, easily reached on the number 309 or 398 buses from Palermo's Piazza dell'Indipendenza, is an excellent choice for a day trip. This small hill town, five miles southwest of Palermo, commands sweeping views down the Conca d'Oro (Golden Shell) valley with the capital in the distance. Monreale came into existence in 1174 because of one building: the Cathedral (Duomo) built in 1174 by the Norman King William II. The life and soul of Monreale still thrives around these buildings, surrounded by a network of tiny streets lined with shops, cafes, and restaurants. The outside of the Duomo is quite unimpressive, but don't be put off by it, ...

Monreale, easily reached on the number 309 or 398 buses from Palermo's Piazza dell'Indipendenza, is an excellent choice for a day trip. This small hill town, five miles southwest of Palermo, commands sweeping views down the Conca d'Oro (Golden Shell) valley with the capital in the distance. Monreale came into existence in 1174 because of one building: the Cathedral (Duomo) built in 1174 by the Norman King William II. The life and soul of Monreale still thrives around these buildings, surrounded by a network of tiny streets lined with shops, cafes, and restaurants. The outside of the Duomo is quite unimpressive, but don't be put off by it, step inside, the entire church is decorated in magnificent twelfth-century mosaics. Historical records indicate that these were executed by Greek and Byzantine artists shortly after the Duomo was completed. The most startling of the mosaics is the towering figure of Christ in the main Apse. Below Christ is the Madonna and Child, followed by lines of saints, the most impressive being Thomas Becket (SCS Thomas Cantb), canonized in 1173. If you don't suffer from a fear of heights climb the 180 steps of the cathedral's tower to stand over the central apse for unsurpassed views over the Mediterranean. Also worth a visit is the Chiostro dei Benedettini, originally part of King William's monastery. The highlight here is the garden, encompassed by 216 columns intricately carved with scenes depicting hunters and workers in a vineyard, birds, flowers and trees.

Frances Folsom
About the Expert

Frances Folsom is the author of CitySpot Palermo, a contributor to the Reiskits guides to Milan and Italy's Lakes Region, and Thomas Cook's Independent Traveller USA.

view full overview

Frances Folsom for Triporati

Compare Flight, Car Rental, and Hotel Rates

Note: A new window will open for each site you select.

Note: A new window will open for each site you select.

Note: A new window will open for each site you select.

Facts at a Glance

Climate

  • Best Time to Visit:

    Best time to visit is May-June, September- November. Avoid Easter and Christmas — it's very crowded — and August when most things are closed.