The Palatine Chapel is a beautiful example of art, elegance and a perfect blend of various architectural styles. This royal chapel of the Norman kings of Sicily stands on the ground floor at the center of the Palazzo Reale in Palermo, southern Italy.
Roger II of Sicily, who started the construction of this chapel in 1132, took eight years to build this structure and even more to complete its decoration with mosaics and fine art. As a perfect example of Byzantine architecture, the chapel has three apses with six pointed arches (three on each side of the central nave) resting on recycled classical columns.
When visiting the chapel, one cannot help admiring the elegance of the mosaics of the chapel as they carve out figures in subtle color and luminance with elongated proportions and streaming draperies. The Byzantine artists have used the shimmering mosaics of the transept to illustrate scenes from the Acts of the Apostles.
Featuring Latin inscriptions, the rest of the mosaics are less impressive and cruder though they are more narrative and illustrative than transcendental. A few mosaics have a secular character and represent oriental flora and fauna.
The chapel is a unique structure in itself as it effortlessly combines various architectural styles, some of them being the Norman architecture in the door decor, the Arabic style in the arches and scripts adorning the roof, the Byzantine style in the dome and mosaics and depicting a typical Muslim design are the clusters of four eight-pointed stars arranged on the ceiling so as to form a Christian cross.
The chapel also takes pride in the Carolingian throne, a low stage for royal receptions, the balcony which allowed the king to view religious processions from above, the muqarnas ceiling which has been painted with many purely ornamental vegetal and zoomorphic designs along with scenes of daily life and many subjects that have not yet been explained.