The Cathedral of Montreal is a true masterpiece, recreating the traditions in art and architecture inherited from Arabs, Normans and Byzantines.
The cathedral was built for about 10 years in the period 1174 - 1185 during the reign of the Norman monarch Wilhelm II the Good (1153 - 1189). His desire was to demonstrate the greatness of his kingdom and surpass the "Palatine Chapel" in Palermo, built by his grandfather - Roger II. Both Sicilian and Byzantine craftsmen were involved in the construction, resulting in the magnificent cathedral building - a mixture of Eastern and Western influences.
The facade of the cathedral sweats with nothing to suggest what golden magnificence is hidden inside. The west side has two towers, but only one of them is finished. The neoclassical gate was added in the 18th century. Far more interesting is the exterior of the apse, which is richly decorated with alternating arcs and circles of marble and tuff.
Great pride for the city are the two Roman bronze doors of the Cathedral, which are one of the few remaining preserved in Europe. The gates of the main entrance were made in 1185 by the Italian sculptor Bonano Pisano. They contain 42 reliefs with biblical scenes surrounded by decorative frames. The northern gates were completed in 1179 by Barisano da Trani and feature the portraits of 42 saints and evangelists.
Undoubtedly the most impressive part of the Cathedral is the richly decorated interior with mosaics. The walls of the nave, wings and apse are completely covered with gold mosaics dating from the 12th and 13th centuries, making more than 6,300 sq.m.
Mosaics with their artistic splendor are one of the great prides of Europe. They cover an area of about 5,950 square meters. They are believed to be the work of mainly Byzantine and Sicilian masters and were completed around 1182. Some of them were probably made later, after Wilhelm's death, by Venetian masters.
On the central apse is the majestic image of Christ Pantokrator (All-Powerful). The rest of the apse is filled with images of saints and apostles. In the main nave, scenes from the Old Testament are depicted, on the wings and vaults - scenes from the life of Christ.
The Cathedral Treasury contains a significant collection of ecclesiastical art, including vestments, silverware and gold from the Middle Ages and the Renaissance.
180 steps separate the tourist from the roof, from which there is a lovely panoramic view of the cathedral, Montreal and Palermo.