The Muqarnas Ceiling of the Palatina Chapel in Palermo

Giovanni Fatta, Tiziana Campisi, Mario Li Castri, Giuseppe Costa

Abstract


St. Peter’s Basilica inside the Royal Palace of Palermo, known as the Palatina Chapel, is one of the most popular medieval monuments in Sicily. Built between 1130 and 1163, it contains interesting wooden framings that represent both bearing and finishing structures.

Studies about the Arab-Norman church have often concentrated on the very rich and suggestive decorative mosaic apparatus of walls and floorings, as well as the pictorial cycle of wooden ceilings. Knowledge about the constructive techniques adopted and, in particular, about the realization of the coverings, is very limited: there are wooden floors built at different levels, vaults and wooden ceilings and among these is the portion that covers the main nave, housing the muqarnas decorations.

The fortunate coincidence of the restoration building yard made it possible to gain precious knowledge of this extraordinary wooden structure, also through a laser scanning survey of a significant area of the wooden ceiling, performed with a low range device. The collected data adequately represent the geometry and the state of conservation of the ceiling and have been used to develop a spatial and geometrical analysis of the muqarnas and relate it to the structural layout.

The survey of the internal and external sides of the covering enabled us to investigate further the materials and constructive techniques employed in this ancient wooden ceiling. At the same time, we were also able to document the original structural system and the completion parts, its conservation status and the interventions and modifications it has undergone through many centuries.


Keywords


Palermo; wooden structures; muqarnas; ceiling; knowledge; construction techniques

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References


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DOI: 10.6092/issn.1973-9494/7940

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Copyright (c) 2018 Giovanni Fatta, Tiziana Campisi, Mario Li Castri, Giuseppe Costa

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