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Inside the Baroque church of Santissimo Salvatore on Corso Vittorio Emanuele, Palermo, Sicily. 
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Inside the Baroque church of Santissimo Salvatore on Corso Vittorio Emanuele, Palermo, Sicily.
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Inside the famous 12th-century cathedral of Monreale near Palermo, Sicily. 
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Inside the famous 12th-century cathedral of Monreale near Palermo, Sicily.

"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 church's plan is a mixture of Eastern Rite and Roman Catholic arrangement. The nave is like an Italian basilica, while the large triple-apsed choir is like one of the early three-apsed churches, of which so many examples still exist in Syria and other Oriental countries. It is, in fact, like two quite different churches put together endwise.

The basilican nave is wide, with narrow aisles. Monolithic columns of grey oriental granite (except one, which is of cipolin marble), on each side support eight pointed arches much stilted. The capitals of these (mainly Corinthian) are also of the classical period. There is no triforium, but a high clerestory with wide two-light windows, with simple tracery like those in the nave-aisles and throughout the church, which give sufficient light.

The other half, Eastern in two senses, is both wider and higher than the nave. It also is divided into a central space with two aisles, each of the divisions ending at the east with an apse. The roofs throughout are of open woodwork very low in pitch, constructionally plain, but richly decorated with color, now mostly restored. At the west end of the nave are two projecting towers, with a narthex (entrance) between them. [...]

It is, however, the large extent (6,500 m²) of the impressive glass mosaics covering the interior which make this church so splendid. With the exception of a high dado, made of marble slabs with bands of mosaic between them, the whole interior surface of the walls, including soffits and jambs of all the arches, is covered with minute mosaic-pictures in bright colors on a gold ground. The mosaic pictures are arranged in tiers, divided by horizontal and vertical bands. In parts of the choir there are five of these tiers of subjects or single figures one above another.

The half dome of the central apse has a colossal half-length figure of Christ, with a seated Virgin and Child below; the other apses have full-length figures of St Peter and St Paul. Inscriptions on each picture explain the subject or saint represented; these are in Latin, except some few which are in Greek. The subjects in the nave begin with scenes from the Book of Genesis, illustrating the Old Testament types of Christ and His scheme of redemption, with figures of those who prophesied and prepared for His coming. Around the lower tier and the choir are subjects from the New Testament, chiefly representing Christ's miracles and suffering, with apostles, evangelists and other saints. The design, execution and choice of subjects all appear to be of Byzantine origin, the subjects being selected from the Menologion of Basil II drawn up by the emperor Basil II in the 10th century." (Text from Wikipedia).

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The Monreale CathedralThe Monreale CathedralThe Monreale CathedralThe Monreale Cathedral
On the roof of the apse of the famous 12th century cathedral of Monreale near Palermo, Sicily. 
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On the roof of the apse of the famous 12th century cathedral of Monreale near Palermo, Sicily.
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Palermo from the Monreale CathedralPalermo from the Monreale CathedralPalermo from the Monreale CathedralThe cloisters of Monreale
Inside the Basilica della Santissima Trinità di Saccargia, the most important Romanesque church of Sardinia. 
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Inside the Basilica della Santissima Trinità di Saccargia, the most important Romanesque church of Sardinia.

"Standing tall and solitary amid the surrounding flat country, its zebra-striped facade and belltower conspicuously mark its Pisan origins. The church was built in 1116, and supposedly owes its remote location to a divine visitation that took place while the giudice of Torres and his wife stopped here on the way to Porto Torres, where they intended to pray for a child at San Gavino's shrine. During the night, a celestial messenger informed the giudice's wife that the pilgrimage was unnecessary since she was already pregnant, whereupon the grateful giudice built an abbey on this spot. [...] Showing elements of Lombard architecture, the stark, tall-naved interior is mostly unadorned, but for a guilded wooden pulpit embedded in one wall and some vivid eleventh- or twelfth-century frescos covering the central apse. These, illustrating scenes from the life of Christ, are attributed to a Pisan artist and are a rare example in Italy of the type of Romanesque mural. Look out, too, for a stone image at the front of the nave on the left, possibly representing Costantino I, the giudice supposed to have founded the church and thought to be buried here." (Robert Andrews: The Rough Guide to Sardinia, 2004).
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Basilica della Santissima Trinità di SaccargiaBasilica della Santissima Trinità di Saccargia - frescos in the apseBasilica della Santissima Trinità di Saccargia - frescos in the apseBasilica della Santissima Trinità di Saccargia - frescos in the apse
Inside the Cathedral of St. Mary and St. Cecilia in Cagliari, the capital of Sardinia, Italy. 
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Inside the Cathedral of St. Mary and St. Cecilia in Cagliari, the capital of Sardinia, Italy.

"The church was built in the 13th century in Pisan-Romanesque style, obtaining cathedral status in 1258. In the 17th and 18th centuries it was renovated along Baroque lines. In the 1930s it finally received the current façade, in Neo-Romanesque style, inspired by Pisa Cathedral.
The church was built by the Pisans in their stronghold overlooking the city, Castel di Castro. It has a square plan, with a nave and two aisles, the latter having cross vaults, while the nave had a wooden ceiling. In 1258, after the Pisans had destroyed the capital of the Giudicato of Cagliari, Santa Igia, and its cathedral, it became the seat of the diocese of Cagliari.
In the 14th century the transept was built, giving the cathedral a Latin cross groundplan, and the two side entrances. The façade received a Gothic mullioned window and the bell tower was also modified. From the same period the first chapel comes, in Italian Gothic style, in the transept's left arm. The right transept was completed after the conquest of Cagliari by the Aragonese, and two additional chapels were built.
In 1618 the presbytery was elevated in order to build a sanctuary for several relics of martyrs. The interior and the façade were re-structured in Baroque style in 1669-1704. A cupola was built at the center of the transept, and the latter's Gothic chapels were removed.
The old façade was demolished in the early 20th century, and replaced by a Neo-Romanesque one, along the same lines of the original design, during the 1930s.
In the interior, the main attraction is the ambo of Guglielmo, a 12th-century pair of pulpits by one Master Guglielmo, originally sculpted for the cathedral of Pisa. It was taken to Cagliari in 1312 and placed in the nave, near to its third column. In 1669 it was split in two, and the two pulpits placed in their current locations. The four marble lions which supported the ambo are now located at the feet of the presbytery balustrade. Sculptures include scenes from the New Testament.
Other artworks include a 15th-century Flemish triptych (also known as Triptych of Clement VII), attributed to Rogier van der Weyden, and the Baroque funerary monument to Bernardo de La Cabra, archbishop of Cagliari, who died in the plague of 1655, while the left transept houses a 14th-century chapel and the mausoleum of the Aragonese King Martin I of Sicily, built in 1676-1680. (Martin died during the conquest of Sardinia in the early 15th century)." (Text from Wikipedia).
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Thursday, Nov 2, 2017: On the walls of Palácio da Pena in Sintra, Portugal
Palácio da Pena
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