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Geographical Location and Population
Monreale (Sicilian: Murriali) is a town and comune in the province of Palermo, in Sicily, Italy.
It is famed for its orange, olive and almond trees from the slope of Monte Caputo. Most of them are exported in large quantities. The town has a population of approximately 30,000, and it is located 15 km (12 mi) south of Palermo. With almost 53 thousand hectares, the municipality of Monreale is perhaps the largest in Europe.
After the occupation of Palermo by the Arabs in 831, 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 decision to build here his famous cathedral. The town was a mere village for long, and starts 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 a large asset. It is noteworthy that the new edifice had also an important defensive destination. Monreale was the seat of the metropolitan archbishop of Sicily, which thenceforth exerted a large influence over Sicily.
Intangible Cultural Heritage
Enzo Rossi, an active puppeteer, was a pupil of the great Peppino Celano in Monreale. Lover and connoisseur of the epic opera and a celebrated puppeteer, he portrays the epic poems of chivalry in Opera dei Pupi Onofrio Senicola via B. D'Acquisto. His shop on the Via Termini, where he makes puppets for theater and for lovers, is a living monument to popular culture, a chest that holds a priceless cultural heritage.