The cloisters were part of William I’s original Benedictine Monastery. The monks were expelled by Garibaldi in 1951 and the cloisters are now a tourist attraction with a small entry fee. They are reached through a separate entrance next to the cathedral.
They were originally surrounded by a monastic wall and have a good view of the outside of the “cathedral”:http://wasleys.org.uk/eleanor/otherholidays/sicily/day_three/three_five/index.html
The cloisters form a quadrangle on the south side of the cathedral and are lined with over 200 double columns supporting Arabic style arches. There are alternating plain columns and columns decorated with bands of mosaics. The beautifully carved capitals at the top of the columns are all different. are
In the south east corner is a small fountain which served as the Monk’s lavatorium and is surrounded by carved and mosaic decorate pillars. The carvings depict scenes from the Bible including Adam and Eve trying to hide their nakedness as well as scenes of animals and plants.
This is well worth visiting and taking time to enjoy the workmanship of the master carvers.
There are more pictures “here.”:http://wasleys.org.uk/eleanor/otherholidays/sicily/day_three/three_six/index.html