Monreale, Province of Palermo, Sicily
- Altitude: 310 m a.s.l
- Population: about 31,000 inhabitants
- Zip/postal code: 90046
- Dialing Area Code: +39 091
- Patron Saint: St. Castrenze, celebrated on 2 February
- Frazioni & Localities: Aquino, Borgo Schirò, Cicio di Monreale, Giacalone, Grisì, Monte Caputo, Pietra, Pioppo, Poggio San Francesco, San Martino delle Scale, Sirignano, Sparacia, Tagliavia, Villaciambra
Provinces of Sicily
Legend has it that the church was built by the king to fulfil a vow to Our Lady for a narrow escape, however the monastery was a military garrison and the monks were also warriors. The birth of the abbey is definitely tied to political events of the time and although fierce struggle between the Norman king and archbishop of Palermo Gualtiero Offamilio (Walter of the Mill, of British origin), who headed the party of the feudal locals resenting foreign domination.
The abbey, which later became the Archbishop's residence, was endowed by the king, and gradually enriched by his successors, of an immense wealth of property and land (the territory of Monreale is still one of the largest of Sicily), and in later times the archbishop of the city always had a tremendous power in Sicily.
What to see
- The parish church, with the miraculous Crocifisso con il Patruzzu amurusu, that saved the population from the plague.
- The "Palazzo di Città", housing important paintings among which one by Antonio Pietro Novelli.
- The ancient District of Carmine, which still preserves the original architecture.
- The "Castellaccio", a 12th-century fortress erected by the Normans 5 kilometers north of Monreale on the steep Via San Martino, perched atop Mount Caputo, 764 meters a.s.l.
- The Benedictine abbey of San Martino delle Scale, probably founded by Pope Gregory the Great about 600 AD; was burnt down by Arabs in 829, it was rebuilt over the ruins in 1346, and houses splendid art treasures.
- The Festa del Santissimo Crocifisso, 1-3 May.
- The Settimana di Musica Sacra, durisn the first half of November.