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The Palermo Duomo


The Normans and the Hohenstaufen Kings of Sicily and Southern Italy 1000 - 1266


Frederick II's 3 wives


The Cathedral of Monreale


Back to Paradoxplace Palermo Photo and History Pages




The Palermo Duomo - a fascinating mix of external styles, started in 1185 on the site of an earlier basilica then mosque




Zodiac Signs


Not very medieval (dating from 1690), but nonetheless interesting, the Palermo Duomo has a heliometer.  This consists of a set of Zodiac Signs inset into the floor of the east end of the duomo in a straight north-south meridian line.  Above this is a small hole in the roof.  The design is such that at midday on midsummer's day, the light coming through the hole projects onto the Cancer (crab) sign, and six months' later, at midday on midwinter's day, the light spot can be seen on the Capricorn (sea goat) sign at the opposite end of the line.


Photos of the Palermo Duomo Heliometer in "The Joy of Shards" Mosaics site


Link to other Zodiac Cycles in Paradoxplace





And inside, the tomb of Frederick II ("Stupor Mundi") (1194 - 1250) himself (nearest the camera) and also that of the first and greatest Norman King of Sicily - Roger II (1093 - 1113? - 1130 - 1154 (61)) (behind).  Interestingly each tomb has had other royals added to its original contents. 




On show in the Treasury of the Duomo is the "Corona di Constanza" (right) - the most beautiful crown made in the eleven hundreds for Frederick's first (Spanish) Queen Consort - Constanzia di Aragon.


Below (not from the Duomo) is a miniature showing the wedding of Frederick to his second wife, Yolanda of Brienne, through whom he also became King of Jerusalem.


After Yolanda's death, Frederick was married a third time in 1235 - to Isabella of England (daughter of the magna-cartared John, and sister of Henry III).  20 years' younger than Frederick and reputedly very beautiful, she (Queen Consort and Empress) was bundled into his harem and died six years later after the birth of their fourth child. 


In fact Frederick left posterity a lot of children (over, and probably well over, twenty).


The Welf and Hohenstaufen Dynasties






Bishop rests with knight in the Norman crypt


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