Monreale to Lipari – 17 Sep 18

After the occupation of Palermo by the Arabs (the Emirate of Sicily), the Bishop of Palermo was forced to move his seat outside the capital. The role of cathedral was assigned to a modest little church, Aghia Kiriaki, in a nearby village later known as Monreale. After the Norman conquest in 1072, Christians took back the former Palermo cathedral. Probably the village’s role as temporary ecclesiastical centre played a part in King William II’s decision to build a cathedral here. Monreale was a small village for a long time. When the Norman Kings of Sicily chose the area as their hunting resort, more people and commerce came to the area after the royalty built a palace. Under King William II, a large monastery of Benedictines coming from Cava de’ Tirreni, with its church, was founded and provided with large assets. The new construction also had an important defensive function. Monreale was the seat of the metropolitan archbishop of Sicily, which from then on exerted a significant influence over Sicily.