The cloister is part of the Cathedral of Monreale. The cathedral, started in 1174 by William II, is an excellent example of Norman architecture. The cloister itself is meant to offer the monks a space within the cathedral where they could enjoy the pleasures of the Sicilian sunshine without having to leave the complex. It spans 2200 meters squared and features 216 columns, each with a unique carved capital. The marble fountain at one corner is considered the work of Muslim sculptors, highlighting the varied religious history of northwest Sicily.