alermo is the metropolis of these islands, combining the benefits of wealth and spendor, and having all that you could wish of beauty . . . One of the most remarkable works of the infidels that we saw was the church known as the Church of the Antiochian (La Martorana or Santa Maria dell'Ammiraglio) . . . is beyond dispute the most wonderful building in the world. The inner walls are all embellished with gold . . . We learnt that its founder after whom it was named, spent hundred-weights of gold on it . . . This church has a tower supported by columns of colored marble . . . and is one of the most wonderful constructions to be seen.
Ibn Jubayr, The Travels of Ibn Jubayr, trans. R.J.C. Broadhurst (London: 1952) 349