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Important cities of Sicily

Important cities of Sicily: Cefalu

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It is the second summer reasort of Sicily and one of the most charming fishing towns on the island. It was founded by the Greeks in the 4th century BC and later on occupied by the Romans. But the apogee of the town dates from the Norman age, when the king Roger II decided to build in 1131 a very beautiful Cathedral and gave the town many privileges.

The Cathedral of Jesus Christ the Saviour is the most important monument in the town: it was planned as the burial place of Roger II and his family. It shows a very interesting combination of different styles: Arabic, Byzantine, Romanesque and Baroque. The façade is flanked by two massive bell-towers and preceeded by a portico from the 15 th century.
The interior walls are rather naked while the main apse is occupied by a wonderful mosaic in Byzantine style, representing the Almighty God surrounded by the Archangels, the Apostles, the Virgin Mary and the Saints of the Christian Church. This beautiful mosaics are considered among the purest Byzantine mosaics of Sicily. To the right of the choir, there is still the old bishop’s throne, and on the left the royal marble and mosaic throne.

The Arab-Norman "Lavatoio” is an old public wash-house, probably also known in the Roman era.
The basins are supplied with water by a fresh-water spring running undergroung and coming from the mountain at the back of the town.
The museum "Mandralisca, is housed in the palace once owned by the Baron Mandralisca, the first deputy of Cefalù in the newly created Italian Parliament of 1861. He was also an art lover who spent much of his time searching for rare objects.

The most interesting exhibits include coin collections, a "krater”, with an illustration of a fishmonger cutting up tuna fish on one side and on the other a picture of two young lovers (4th century BC); but the finest work of all is the Portrait of an Unknown Man, a masterpiece of 15th century Italian painting by Antonello da Messina.

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