1911 Encyclopædia Britannica/Cefalu

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CEFALU (anc. Cephaloedium), a seaport and episcopal see of the province of Palermo, Sicily, 42 m. E. of Palermo by rail. Pop. (1901) 13,273. The ancient town (of Sicel origin, probably, despite its Greek name) takes its name from the headland (κεφαλή, head) upon which it stood (1233 ft.); its fortifications extended to the shore, on the side where the modern town now is, in the form of two long walls protecting the port. There are remains of a wall of massive rectangular blocks of stone at the modern Porta Garibaldi on the south. It does not appear in history before 396 b.c., and seems to have owed its importance mainly to its naturally strong position. The only ancient remains on the mountain are those of a small building in good polygonal work (a style of construction very rare in Sicily), consisting of a passage on each side of which a chamber opens. The doorways are of finely-cut stone, and of Greek type, and the date, though uncertain, cannot, from the careful jointing of the blocks, be very early. On the summit of the promontory are extensive remains of a Saracenic castle. The new town was founded at the foot of the mountain, by the shore, by Roger II. in 1131, and the cathedral was begun in the same year. The exterior is well preserved, and is largely decorated with interlacing pointed arches; the windows also are pointed. On each side of the façade is a massive tower of four storeys. The round-headed Norman portal is worthy of note. The interior was restored in 1559, though the pointed arches of the nave, borne by ancient granite columns, are still visible: and the only mosaics preserved are those of the apse and the last bay of the choir: they are remarkably fine specimens of the art of the period (1148) and, though restored in 1859–1862, have suffered much less than those at Palermo and Monreale from the process. The figure of the Saviour is especially fine. The groined vaulting of the roof is visible in the choir and the right transept, while the rest of the church has a wooden roof. Fine cloisters, coeval with the cathedral, adjoin it. (See G. Hubbard in Journal of the R.I.B.A. xv. 333 sqq., 1908.) The harbour is comparatively small.  (T. As.)