On our second day in Palermo, the group visited the Cappella Palatina, a Norman chapel built in the 12th century under Roger II. The chapel combines Norman, Byzantine, and Arab traditions in its architecture under the roof of Christianity. First of all, the main architectural elements are Norman. The Byzantine features are the mosaic style and triple-apsidal plan. Muslim influence most obviously presents itself in the muqarnas on the ceiling and the abundance of geometric designs. Additionally, there are inscriptions not only in the traditional Latin and Greek, but in Arabic, as well. La Zisa, which we toured the day before, is yet another Norman structure in Sicily with strong Arabic influence. There are plenty of geometric designs and and Arabic inscriptions (mostly on the bowls inside) in La Zisa. Also, its muqarnas is made in brick instead of wood, revealing that the Normans made the traditionally Islamic feature their own. However, the muqarnas of the Cappella Palatina separates itself again from that of La Zisa in that it was painted with figures, obviously straying far from Islamic tradition.
The last interesting thing that I will point out about the Cappella Palatina are the columns. Not only are such Corinthian columns uncommon in Norman architecture, but it is interesting that original classical columns are integrated into the arches. The Cappella Palatina is quite literally a combination of the cultures present in Sicily.