Monreale, Province of Palermo, Sicily

Situated in a magnificent position on a terraced hill dominating the COnca d'Oro Valley, Monreale is the main tourist center in the surroundings of Palermo, the Sicilian capital, and world-famous for its Cathedral, a masterpiece of Norman art.


  • Altitude: 310 m a.s.l
  • Population: about 38,000 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



The town is located in a site of great strategic importance, to dominate the valley and to control the only route to the sea and the inner island and Valle del Belice. The Norman kings elected it later as a hunting place, and built a palace - possibly the current Town Hall - hence the name of Mons Regalis. Monreale, from "Mons Regalis" (Royal Mountain), rose in the 13th century around the famous cathedral of Santa Maria La Nuova and the adjoining monastery, built in 1174 by King William II 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.

Demographics - Number of Inhabitants

Year 1861: 13268
Year 1871: 13492
Year 1881: 16585
Year 1901: 19829
Year 1911: 16890
Year 1921: 20630
Year 1931: 18111
Year 1936: 19578
Year 1951: 22526
Year 1961: 23672
Year 1971: 23728
Year 1981: 23874
Year 1991: 26256
Year 2001: 31964
Year 2011: 38018
Year 2021: 38461
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Provinces of Sicily
Sicilia region
Surnames in the Provinces of Sicily