08/07/08

Palantine Chapel shines again - Würth sponsoring helped to restore the European cultural asset

Künzelsau/Palermo. On Monday, 7 July 2008, a ceremony was held to celebrate the completion of the renovation works at the Palatine Chapel in the Norman Palace in Palermo, capital of the region of Sicily. Würth Italy and the Charitable Würth Trust had supported this project with approx. EUR 2.5 million over five years. On Friday, 11 July 2008, the chapel will be opened to the interested public.

In 2003, a cooperation contract between Würth and the Sicilian government sealed the initiative for the reconstruction of the chapel from the early 11th century after an earthquake had damaged it severely in 2001. The unique interior of the Palatine Chapel with its world-famous mosaics constitutes a cultural heritage of outstanding importance.

A symbol of understanding among nations

The idea behind Würth’s commitment in Sicily is the idea of a joint European cultural heritage. The company wants to contribute to its preservation, further development and new interpretation. “Through the symbiosis of Arabo-Islamic influences and ideals of Christian architecture of the Normans and Staufers, the Palatine Chapel is a convincing example of the fruitfulness of tolerance and international understanding,” says Prof. Dr. h. c. mult. Reinhold Würth, the Chairman of the Supervisory Board of the Würth Group’s Family Trusts. “We hope that the attention due is not only paid to the cultural heritage which needs to be protected, but that the intercultural dialog which both the palace and the chapel symbolize will also be continued.”

Over more than 800 working days, restorers, craftspeople and engineers have done a lot to restore both the outside and the interior of the chapel with all its valuable mosaics and paintings. The restoration works complied with the standards for the protection of historical monuments and required expertise and know-how from all people involved.

The impressive result was celebrated on Monday in the presence of On. Antonello Antinoro, Councilor for Culture of Sicily, On. Francesco Cascio, President of the Sicilian parliament, his Excellency Mons. Paolo Romeo, Archbishop of Palermo, On. Raffaele Lombardo, President of Sicily, Sen. Renato Schifani, President of the Senate of the Italian government, Prof. Dr. h. c. mult. Reinhold Würth, Chairman of the Supervisory Board of the Würth Group’s Family Trusts, and many guests. In time for the vacation season, the chapel will be opened to the public from 11 July 2008.

Top-class exhibitions of the Würth Collection

With the completion of the restoration works, the Würth Group’s commitment in the Norman Palace is not over. Already during the restoration phase, Würth presented top-class exhibitions on modernist art compiled from the company-owned art collection. The overview exhibitions “Impressionism - Expressionism” and “From Spitzweg to Baselitz. Excursions to the Würth Collection” received a lot of attention.

This series will be continued in future. The current exhibition is dedicated to the artist Max Ernst who is considered to be one of the most important and influential representatives of surrealism and whose works are among the central pieces of the Würth Collection. A Picasso exhibition is being planned at present.

Information: The Palatine Chapel in the Norman Palace

Palermo has always been an international city, a city which has always been exposed to political covetousness, a city of different ethnical groups, in short: Europe in miniature and thus an ideal breeding ground for art which reaches far beyond the region of Sicily. The Norman Palace as an interface of cultural and political fusion is a visible sign of this heritage and captivates with its inner and outer harmony as well as its outshining decorum.

First it was the palace of Arab emirs (Al Kasar), then of Norman kings. Under the Spanish viceroys it was extended in the 16th century and has been the seat of the regional parliament of Sicily since 1947. The Palatine Chapel looks back on a changing history. Built under Roger II as the private chapel of the Norman kings inside the king’s palace, it is said to be a unique example of Norman art synthesis thanks to its Arabian joist ceiling, gold-based Byzantine mosaic and Roman marble floors.