Eastward, a cluster of the isles of Eolus gleamed like a string of opals luminous with sunset fires. Northward and westward, to the silvered rim of the horizon, stretched the Mediterranean's turquoise shield, its breeze-swept surface fretted into a maze of purple arabesques; and, lastly, at our feet, - the vision's crowning glory, - Palermo, glistening as if made of alabaster, lay like an iridescent pearl, within its Shell of Gold.

The building of most prominence and beauty in Palermo is its old cathedral, the richly decorated walls of which possess a sombre golden hue, as if eight centuries of Sicilian sunshine had penetrated its receptive stone, and dyed it with a mellow tint that triumphs over time. The spacious court in front of it is itself a place of great attractiveness (or would be, were its area kept free of beggars and persistent sellers of postal cards), surrounded as it is by an elaborate balustrade, which lifts into the light and air a stately cordon of saints, popes, and bishops carved in stone, the post of honor in the centre being occupied by the figure of Santa Rosalia. In spite of a commonplace and inharmonious dome, which an audacious Neapolitan architect placed upon the roof, about a century ago, this grand, old Norman-Saracenic structure appealed to me as few cathedrals in the world have done. The first thing to impress me, as I looked upon it, was the orange color of its mighty frame; then its vast length awakened wonder; then the light, graceful towers at the corners, with their open-worked turrets piercing the blue sky; and, finally, its Oriental porticos and doorways, and the amazing wealth of Arabic ornamentation that adorns their surfaces. Another notable feature of the building is the union of its western wall with the picturesque bell-tower of the archbishop's palace by means of two fine arches which resemble bridges, spanning the stream of humanity in the street below. One should walk slowly round this masterpiece of architecture many times, to let its harmony and beauty sink into one's soul. In doing so I always found some object of rare workmanship or exquisite design, which had till then escaped my notice. Thus, at the western end of the cathedral I recognized only after several visits the fine memorial tablets of white marble, many centuries old, set like mosaics in its tawny walls; nor did I see at first in the elaborately decorated portal fronting on the court the proud inscription of the Norman kings, proclaiming in laconic Latin, that this, at the time of their sovereignty, was "The first Seat, the Crown of the King, and the Capital of the Kingdom".

The Cathedral Of Palermo.

The Cathedral Of Palermo.

Cathedral Dome And Towers.

Cathedral Dome And Towers.

I wish that the interior of this cathedral were worthy of its exterior. No doubt it was so, when completed; for its proportions are superb, and the imposing crypt, designed in 1169, by the great English architect, Walter of the Mill, whose tomb is still discernible among its massive granite columns, leaves on the mind an ineffaceable im-pression of solemnity and grandeur. Unfortunately the same eccentric Neapolitan, who marred the glorious exterior with his modern dome, made such uncalled-for, inappropriate changes in the interior, as to injure it irreparably. Far worse, however, than his alterations, was his vandalism. For the Bourbon sovereign, Ferdinand I., allowed this favorite of his to tear away from its old walls and pavement, and carry off to Italy for sale, a vast amount of the former splendor of this sanctuary, in the form of porphyry, granite, lapis-lazuli, and jasper. Still there are certain objects there which disarm criticism and repay inspection; especially the beautiful receptacles for holy water, which rear their finely sculptured canopies on either side of the huge nave. Interesting also is the chapel of Santa Rosalia, containing a sarcophagus of solid silver, which weighs more than fourteen hundred pounds, and is said to have cost some twenty thousand dollars. This precious casket is, however, exhibited to the public only three times in the year, - first, on the 11th of January, the day on which, in 1693, the saint is thought to have saved Palermo from destruction by an earthquake; and subsequently on her birthday, the 15th of July, and on the day of her decease, the 4th of September.