William the Good may have stood in the great cathedral which he commissioned, staring up at the golden mosaics with pride.
Today, armchair tourists can view Monreale Cathedral from a perspective that was not possible during William II’s reign: a close-range aerial tour.
At the invitation of the Archdiocese of Monreale, videographer Alexander Spinnato has filmed the cathedral’s splendid art utilizing a camera mounted to a drone. The drone entered through the Romanesque bronze doors, swooped between pillars, skirted the twelfth century tiled masterpieces, and soared to the ceiling to capture the golden portrait of Christ Pantocrator (“Ruler of All”) in a carefully choreographed tour which has now been set to music.
The Cathedral of Monreale, famed for its radiant golden mosaics, melds Roman Catholic and Byzantine styles. The nave is like an Italian basilica, while the large triple-apsed choir is like an Oriental three-apsed church. The basilica was commissioned by William II, king of Sicily, in 1174 and dedicated to the Assumption of the Virgin Mary.
Dating from the 12th and 13th centuries, the golden mosaics completely cover the walls of the nave, aisles, transept and apse – amounting to 68,220 square feet in total. The mosaic cycle is second only to the Hagia Sofia in size, and much better preserved. Some of the mosaics were created by craftsmen brought from Venice.
Tourists who climb to the roof terraces over the cloisters enjoy a panoramic view of the fertile valley called “La Conca d’Oro” (the Golden Shell) with its orange, olive and almond trees, then beyond to the sea and the bay of Conca d’Oro.
Watch the breathtaking video here, courtesy of Repubblica TV.