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The small church of San Cataldo, elevated above road level, is an important work of art. Literally and figuratively it is on a high pedestal for its visitors and its peculiarities is frequently used as a monumental image of Palermo‘s architecture patrimony.

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It was built on the ancient walls of the city between 1154 and 1160 by Majone of Bari, Grand Admiral and Chancellor of William I and became the private chapel of his palace. In 1182 Wilhelm II donated it to the Benedictine monks of Monreale, who held it until 1787. Today’s appearance is due to the restoration carried out around 1882 by Giuseppe Patricolo that freed it from severe transformations that have occurred over the centuries. The church has three naves. The central one, of double amplitude compared to its sides, is separated from the other two naves by marble columns “di spoglio“ (taken from ancient classical sites) on the apses edges and is covered by hemispherical domes, well visible from the outside for their red colour. The aisles are covered with ogival cross vaults. The bare but impressive interior walls display small columns in the corners. The opus sectile floor, made of marble inlaid with Egyptian porphyry and Greek serpentine, recycled material from the Roman period. The church belongs to the Order of the Knights of the Holy Sepulchre of Jerusalem and is only open for sightseeing.

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