The history of this nomination begins as early as 1996, when the site called “Historic Centre of Palermo, Botanical Garden and the Complex of Monreale” was added to the Proposal List, later modified on 6 June 2001 in “Palermo and the Cathedral of Monreale”. However, this proposal has changed over time, following checks on the properties that were intended to be nominated and the most recent strategic guidelines of UNESCO that aimed at a broader representation of properties, as far as typology, chronological scopes and geographical areas. To better respond to these strategies and consider the specificity of the places in question, attention was focused on an unrepresented historical and cultural context that included the inclusion of Cefalù and the official modification of the proposed property in “Arab-Norman Palermo and the Cathedrals of Cefalù and Monreale.”
On July 3, 2015, the World Heritage Committee, during the 39th annual meeting held in Bonn, Germany, decided to inscribe on the World Heritage List the serial property “Arab-Norman Palermo and the Cathedrals of Cefalù and Monreale,” which has become the fifty-first Italian UNESCO property and has confirmed the primacy of Italy as the nation with the highest number of world heritage properties and, among the Italian regions, the supremacy of Sicily.
The serial property was inscribed on the basis of the following three UNESCO criteria.
Criterion II: to exhibit an important interchange of human values, over a span of time or within a cultural area of the world, on developments in architecture or technology, monumental arts, town-planning or landscape design.
“The Arab-Norman Palermo property and the Cathedrals of Cefalù and Monreale is the material testimony of a particular political and cultural condition characterized by a fruitful cohabitation of people of different origins (Muslims, Byzantines, Latins, Jews, Lombards and French) who favored the interchange of human values and the blossoming of a lively season of cultural syncretism. In the monumental field, this emblematically generated a conscious and outstanding combination of architectural elements and artistic techniques, drawn from the Byzantine tradition, the world of Islam and the West and proposed new models of synergy between nature and building whose outcomes influenced the development of the architecture of southern Italy on its Tyrrhenian side and extended to a large part of the Mediterranean basin.”
(© Application Dossier for the Inscription on the World Heritage List of the Arab-Norman Palermo serial property and the Cathedrals of Cefalù and Monreale, December 2014)
Criterion IV: to be an outstanding example of a type of building, architectural or technological ensemble or landscape which illustrates (a) significant stage(s) in human history.
“The set of monuments of the property ‘Arab - Norman Palermo and the Cathedrals of Cefalù and Monreale’ shows in an exemplary manner the characteristics of an extraordinary stylistic syntax that, reworking in an original and unitary manner elements belonging to different cultures, gave life to new spatial, constructive and decorative concepts. The strong impact of these events on the Medieval horizon significantly contributed to the formation of the Mediterranean koinè, a prototype and tangible sign of the birth of modern Mediterranean-European civilization, from the Empire of Frederick II of Swabia to the formation of national states.”
(© Application Dossier for the Inscription on in the World Heritage List of the Arab-Norman Palermo serial property and the Cathedrals of Cefalù and Monreale, December 2014)
Declaration of Outstanding Universal Value and Justification for Inscription
“The set of buildings forming the property ‘Arab-Norman Palermo and the Cathedrals of Cefalù and Monreale’ is a material example of coexistence, interaction and interchange between different cultural components of heterogeneous historical and geographic origin. This syncretism has been translated into an original architectural and artistic style of outstanding universal value, in which Byzantine, Islamic and Latin elements are admirably fused, capable of being produced in unique combinations of outstanding artistic value and extraordinarily unitary. The Arab-Norman syncretism had a strong impact in the Middle Ages, a fundamental condition for the development of modern Mediterranean-European civilization.”
(©Application Dossier for the Inscription on in the World Heritage List of the Arab-Norman Palermo serial property and the Cathedrals of Cefalù and Monreale, December 2014)
Management plan of the UNESCO serial property “Arab-Norman Palermo and the Cathedrals of Cefalù and Monreale” All rights reserved ©
Location maps and buffer zones of individual monuments. All rights reserved ©:
Palermo - Monreale - Cefalù
Regione Siciliana - Department of Cultural Heritage and Sicilian Identity, Department of Cultural Heritage and Sicilian Identity, UNESCO Sicily Heritage Foundation
Aurelio Angelini, UNESCO Sicily Heritage Foundation
General coordination and technical-scientific support::
Francesca Riccio, Ministry of Cultural Heritage and Activities, General Secretariat, Service I - UNESCO World Heritage Office (Director Gianni Bonazzi)
Texts and contributions:
The Management Plan has been shared with:
Ministry of the Interior - Central Management for the Administration of the Religious Building Fund; Ministry of Heritage and Cultural Activities and Tourism (General Secretariat-UNESCO World Heritage Office); the Sicilian Region (Department of Cultural Heritage and Sicilian Identity Sicilian Regional Assembly, Sicilian Regional Assembly); Municipality of Palermo; Municipality of Cefalù; Municipality of Monreale; Archdiocese of Palermo; Archdiocese of Monreale; Archdiocese of Cefalù; Ministry of the Interior (Building Fund for Cult); Eparchia of Piana degli Albanesi; UNESCO Sicily Heritage Foundation; Sicily Foundation; Federico II Foundation.
© Management Plan for the Nomination to the UNESCO World Heritage List
Proclamazione UNESCO Itinerario Arabonormanno
Palermo Arabo-Normanna e le Cattedrali di Cefalù e Monreale