Travel guidebooks for the ultra curious, Approach Guides reveal a destination’s essence by exploring a compelling aspect of its cultural heritage: art, architecture, history, food, or wine.
Having finally won the island of Sicily from entrenched Islamic forces after thirty years of battle, the Normans set upon creating a multicultural kingdom to inspire the world. While the Norman civilization has since faded from history, its brilliant churches, glittering with mosaic decoration, serve as enduring reminders of its greatness.
In this guidebook, we take a look at four 12th century Norman churches, located in and around Palermo: Cefalù Cathedral, Palatine Chapel, Martorana, and Monreale Cathedral. Wonders of engineering and design, they selectively borrow features from Sicily’s three prevailing cultures — Western Christian (Latin), Byzantine Christian (Greek), and North African Islamic — to reveal a unique and compelling aesthetic.
For each of these four churches, we begin by providing background on its history, its architectural arrangement, and the specific design features contributed from each religious tradition.
We then dive into the focus of this guidebook, their world-class mosaic decoration.
* History. We provide the history of each church’s mosaics.
* Style. We detail the prevailing style and explain how it changed over time. As part of this review, we touch on relevant symbolism and the technical hurdles mosaicists encountered. In particular, you will see how Christ Pantocrator images adapt and evolve to meet new requirements.
* Highlights. We focus your attention on the most impressive works and then walk step-by-step through them. All of our descriptions reference high quality images that will help you quickly identify important features.
* Tips. And along the way, this guide provides tips — based on our personal experiences — and links to critical online information.
We hope this cultural guidebook offers you fresh insights into Sicily’s mosaic treasures and sets you on a path to making your own discoveries.
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Compulsive (and compulsively informed) travelers, the Raezers are the masterminds behind the downloadable Approach Guides, which are filled with a university course-worth of history and insights for 62 destinations worldwide. WHY WE LOVE IT: The Raezers share our desire for deep, well-researched information on the wonders of the world.
Los Angeles Times
- LA Times
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