The Chiostro dei Benedettini in Monreale
Other posts from Monreale: Introduction & The Cathedral
Entrance to Monreale’s mind-shattering Cathedral was free, so when the ticket lady at the neighboring Benedictine Cloister asked us for €6 apiece, we were expecting to be blown away. Unfortunately, we weren’t.
If you have extra time on your hands and have surplus money to throw around, the cloister might be worth a look. 216 twin columns ring the perfectly square courtyard, and no two sets are alike. Some depict men engaged in tasks like whipping each other or fishing, while others are intricate floral scenes. Every other pair of columns is decorated with colorful tiles, and the effect is decidedly Arabic.
In one corner of the otherwise uniform courtyard, there’s a beautifully carved fountain, in the shape of a palm tree, with human figures and beasts. We couldn’t get too close to it, as it was under restoration. In fact, fully half of the courtyard was blocked off, though didn’t mean that the entry fee was reduced.
For those interested in the Arabic influence in Romanesque architecture, or people who get really excited about columns (I know you’re out there), the Chiostro dei Benedettini is a must see. Anyone else might want to take a pass.
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This Post Has 2 Comments
It is hard to fathom why some sites charge and some don’t. I don’t think even the Italians would know! I think the cloister looks great, but now that I know that Monreale’s cathedral is even better AND free I might choose not to visit the cloister depending on my budget. Thanks for the lovely photos, now everyone can make an informed decision.
Your photographs of the cloister at Monreale are absolutely stunning, much better than mine are. I am writing a book on the material culture of 12th-century Sicily and would love to ask if you would please be interested in letting me use some of your photos. All attributions would be made, of course. I would also like to ask if perhaps you have other photographs from Sicily that you might be interested in sharing. With a book on material culture, a picture is, indeed, worth a thousand words. If these photos are from a book, I would really appreciate knowing the title so I can contact the publisher.Many thanks!Nancy Spies