Si Trova: a Palermo, in piazza Bellini
Lat: 38° 6' 53.40203" N - Long: 13° 21' 46.96417" E
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The Norman Church of Santa Maria dell'Ammiraglio, or Martorana, is part of the UNESCO World Heritage List within the "Arab-Norman Itinerary of Palermo, Cefalù and Monreale".
It was erected in 1143 by the admiral of Roger II, Giorgio d'Antiochia, and was soon annexed to the nearby Benedictine monastery founded by Elisa Martorana.
It is among the most fascinating Norman churches in Italy.
It underwent several transformations over the centuries: the Greek cross plan was transformed into a basilica with the demolition of the facade and the space of the atrium in front, which was covered, was incorporated.
The bell tower was used as an entrance.
In 1750 a new Baroque façade was built on the side of the church, later the baroque decorations were removed to restore the original configuration.
The mosaics are magnificent.
The entrance contains two mosaics with historical and political significance, originally placed on the façade: Ruggero crowned by Christ, according to the theocratic conception of the Norman monarchy, and Giorgio d'Antiochia at the feet of the Virgin, who holds an inscription which states that he built the church from the foundations.
In the golden glittering mosaics the Marian cycle prevails, a theme not very common in Byzantine churches.
The same Christ blessing in the dome is further away than the usual iconography and is represented seated with the earth at his feet amid archangels bent in adoring position.
The Prophets and the Evangelists are represented around.
Among the works of art of the church there is the wooden door on the right of the choir executed by Arab masters in the 12th century.
Today the church is part of the Eparchy of Piana degli Albanesi and officiates the liturgy according to the Byzantine rite.
A curiosity: when in June 1537 Charles V visited Palermo, in the garden of the Church there were orange trees, but in July there are no fruits, so the nuns, to show a beautiful and well-kept garden, made oranges of almond paste and colored them giving the garden a more striking and beautiful effect: they invented the "Martorana fruit", which became the heritage of pastry chefs from all over the region who still continue to make them.
Open to the public: Monday to Saturday 9:30 am - 1:00 pm and 3:30 pm - 5:30 pm.
Sundays and holidays 9:00 - 10:30.
For info tel 345 8288231.
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