The Arab-Norman church with the red domes
In the historic center of Palermo, just below the walls of the Royal Palace, stands San Giovanni degli Eremiti, a monumental complex founded by Roger II in 1132 that includes the Church, the "Arab Hall" and the Cloister.
Its name comes from the ancient monastery of St. Ermete, which stood, in the time of Gregory the Great in the very same place.
The church was designed according to Arab-Norman canons. The outside has a bare curtain wall but recalls eastern elements, cubic structures topped by hemispherical domes in a square-circle pattern representing earth and sky, a common theme in Islamic and Byzantine culture.
In contrast to the outside, the church interior is sober with a standard structure and in a "commissa" cross layout. From inside the church, a small passageway leads to the "Arab Hall," probably dating back to a pre-existing Islamic mosque. Attached to the Church is the square-shaped Cloister, with double columns and adorned by a garden that retains a quiet sacredness.