The cathedral was founded in 1130 by Roger the Second, who legend has it swore to build a church if he survived a terrible storm that hit his fleet on the way from Palermo. The raging elements washed him ashore on the beach by Cefalú where as promised he laid the first stone of this impressive building. It is undoubtedly one of the most beautiful cathedrals in the world, a perfect example of the Mediterranean Romanesque style.
The facade is dominated by the two towers built in 1240, whose incredible size is made more elegant by double sided windows. In 1472 a colonnade with triple arches was added.
The church is three-aisled with two rows of marble columns, on which an arcade with seven arches rests. The middle aisle’s wooden ceiling is painted and is a typical example of Islamic art. The apse, cross vaulting and the adjacent walls are decorated with gold mosaics, with the main motif of a unique Christ Pantocrator. This is a magnificent example of Byzantine craftsmanship, and perhaps the most sublime portrayal of Christ in Christian art. The Virgin Mary, the apostles and various angels sit beneath him.