Sicily fell under some form of direct Muslim control (initially the Aghlabids, and later the Fatimids) for over two centuries before being overtaken by the Normans in the mid-5th / mid-11th century. Although a number of structures built by the Muslims survive from that period, these structures were so heavily modified through rebuilding and remodelling under the Normans that they lost much of their original character.
Interestingly, an architectural tradition with clear and strong influences from the Islamic world came into being under the Normans. Siculo-Norman architecture blends Romanesque, Byzantine and Muslim features, and consequently creates combinations of Romanesque austerity with more sumptuous features from the Islamic and Byzantine traditions. Muslim influences came primarily from pre-existing local Sicilian Muslim traditions as well as from Fatimid Egypt, although influences have also been traced to other regions of the Muslim world, including North Africa and even Persia.
The materials used in Siculo-Norman architecture are mixed. Stone, brick and wood are used for both structural and decorative purposes. Mosaics, showing Byzantine influences, are very common. Arabic inscriptions are also found in a number of Norman structures. The use of muqarnas
is widespread, and in some cases it is painted with figurative representations.