History of Monreale


See Monreale guide for highlights and historic monuments

Some sources claim that the city of Monreale was born on the site where there was an ancient Muslim village called “Bulchar”.

Later, since the mountainous area was the favorite game reserve of the Norman kings, it was because of this "royal" association that the site was called in Latin "Mons Regalis", or "Mountain of the King" ("Royal Mountain") - hence Monreale.

This simple traditional history about the origins of Monreale has been confirmed by studies, except that, in reality, the site did not coincide perfectly with "Bulchar", as the Muslim village was located a few miles away.

In fact, as we read in the deed of gift of William II, known as "The Good" (1155-1189), the cathedral itself and the village were built "juxta Bulchar sarracenorum pagum", that is "close to Bulchar, a village of the Saracens", which was located three miles from Monreale" [1].

This is confirmed in other sources, where we read that:

"[...] Bulchar in the Latin diplomas until the time of William II was a village of Muslims, 'close' to which William founded the magnificent cathedral and monastery of the Benedictines. The houses, grouped around a cloister of feudal monks, enriched by William with incredible generosity, soon became a large land that produced the dissolution of the near Muslim village [...]" [2].

This also explains the etymology of "Bulchar"which means "fertile land":

"[...] of this ancient Bulchar village there is only an inn three miles from Monreale, which is called 'Bucharra'. This word means ‘fertile land’ [...]."

See also Monreale visitor guide for travel information.

References

1. See “Archivio Storico siciliano”, 1900, Vol. 25: 444

2. See“Archivio storico italiano”, 1847: 62 Note 33). G. Di Marzo (“Stato presente della chiesa di Sicilia”,1860: 44 and note 1