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Monreale

Trip Planner Europe  /  Italy  /  Sicily  /  Province of Palermo  /  Monreale
Monreale is a town and comune in the province of Palermo, in Sicily, Italy, on the slope of Monte Caputo, overlooking the very fertile valley called "La Conca d'oro", famed for its orange, olive and almond trees, the produce of which is exported in large quantities. The town, which has a population of approximately 30,000, is about 15km south of Palermo.HistoryAfter the occupation of Palermo by the Arabs the Bishop of Palermo was forced to move his seat outside the capital. The role of the new cathedral was assigned to a modest little church, Aghia Kiriaki in the village nearby which was later called Monreale. After the Norman conquest in 1072 Christians got back the old city cathedral. Probably this role as temporary ecclesiastical centre played a part in King William II's decision to build his famous cathedral here.The town was for a long time a mere village, and started its expansion when the Norman Kings of Sicily chose the area as their hunting resort, building here a palace (probably identifiable with the modern Town Hall).Under King William II the large monastery of Benedictines coming from Cava de' Tirreni, with its church, was founded and provided with large assets. It is noteworthy that the new construction had also an important defensive function. Monreale was the seat of the metropolitan archbishop of Sicily, which from then on exerted a significant influence over Sicily.
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