The Cathedral of Sant’Agata is the Cathedral of Catania, dedicated to the martyr Saint Agatha, located in the main square of the city, Piazza del Duomo. SHORT HISTORY The church had a tumultuous history, being repeatedly destroyed and rebuilt after the earthquakes occurred in the area. A first church was built around 1086 on the ruins of the Achilliane Baths dating back to Roman times. On February 4, 1169, an earthquake completely destroyed the ceiling of the church, killing many people gathered in the Cathedral. In 1194, under the reign of Henry VI, a fire caused considerable damage to the structure. In 1693, the terrible earthquake of Val di Noto destroyed the Cathedral almost completely, leaving only the apse and the facade. The bell tower was also put to the ground. The reconstruction of the church was made during the 18th century. The current building is the work of the architect Girolamo Palazzotto, who is responsible for the interior, while Giovanni Battista Vaccarini designed the facade, which was built between 1734 and 1761. In 1857, the bell tower was completed, and the current layout of the churchyard was built in the 19th century. ARCHITECTURE The facade of the Read more [...]
Via Etnea is the main street of the historical center of Catania, which runs in the south-north direction for about 2.8 kilometers, from Piazza del Duomo to Tondo Gioeni. Via Etnea is the shopping street of Catania, and one of the busiest streets in the city, both during the day and at night. SHORT HISTORY Via Etnea was built at the end of the 17th century, following the disastrous earthquake of January 11, 1693, which almost destroyed the city of Catania. The Duke of Camastra, sent by the Viceroy of Sicily to oversee the reconstruction of the city, decided to trace new roads according to orthogonal directions, and started right from the Cathedral of Sant’Agata. A road was thus created that led from the Cathedral towards Etna. The street was initially called Via Duke of Uzeda, in honor of the viceroy of the time. Later, the street changed its name to Via Stesicorea, and finally to the current Via Etnea. The road was about 700 meters long, and ended in the current Piazza Stesicoro, where one of the gates of Catania was located. During the 20th century, the street developed further north, to Piazza Cavour, and then to Tondo Read more [...]
The Church of San Francesco d’Assisi all’Immacolata is a church in Catania, located in Piazza San Francesco d’Assisi, about 300 meters away from the Cathedral of Sant’Agata. SHORT HISTORY In ancient times, this site housed a pagan temple dedicated to the goddess Minerva. In 1254, the Franciscan Order settled in Catania, near the Church of San Michele, adjacent to the Ursino Castle. In 1260, the Franciscan friars moved to the current place, where the old Church of Speranza stood. In 1329, Eleanor of Anjou, Queen of Sicily and the wife of King Frederick II of Aragon, promoted the construction of a convent and church dedicated to Saint Francis of Assisi. Eleanor of Anjou was buried here in 1343. In 1693, the terrible eartquake of Val di Noto destroyed the church almost completely, and the structure was rebuilt in Baroque style in the following century. ART AND ARCHITECTURE The small churchyard is preceded by a staircase of Etna lava stone, with a wrought iron gate and a balustrade with four pillars that support the imposing statues of San Giuseppe da Copertino, Sant’Agata, Santa Chiara d’Assisi and San Bonaventura. The facade of the church, built around 1854, is decorated by Read more [...]
Palazzo Tezzano is a Baroque palace in Catania, located in Piazza Stesicoro, near the Roman Amphitheater of Catania and the Church of San Biagio. SHORT HISTORY Palazzo Tezzano was built starting with 1709 on a project by the architect Alonzo di Benedetto, at the behest of the count and physician Niccolò Tezzano. Later, the count donated the palace to the city of Catania, and the building was transformed into a hospital between 1720 and 1727. In 1837, due to the economic difficulties of the hospital, a part of the palace was rented by the Bourbon Intendency Office, to house its archive. A few years later, around 1844, some sections of the General Prosecutor’s Office and the Criminal Chancellery were also installed in the palace. The hospital was transferred between 1878 and 1880 in a building adjacent to the Church of San Nicolò l’Arena, and changed its name to Vittorio Emanuele II Hospital. After the transfer of the hospital, Palazzo Tezzano remained the seat of the Court until the construction of the new headquarters in Piazza Giovanni Verga, completed and inaugurated in 1953. The palace currently houses the Ceramographic Archive of the University of Catania, consisting of thousands of reproductions Read more [...]
The Church of San Biagio, also known as the Church of Sant’Agata alla Fornace, is a Neoclassical church in Catania, located in Piazza Stesicoro, a few meters away from the Roman Amphitheater of Catania. SHORT HISTORY Originally, there were two churches on this site, one dedicated to San Biagio (Saint Blaise), and the other dedicated to Sant’Agata (Saint Agatha), built in the 11th century atop the furnace where the Saint was martyred. After the terrible earthquake of 1693, which destroyed almost completely the city of Catania, a new church was built and the two parishes joined. ART AND ARCHITECTURE The facade of the church was built in Neoclassical style by the architect Antonino Battaglia. The facade is characterised by four columns in Corinthian style, supporting a triangular tympanum. The interior of the church has a single nave. The main altar is decorated with scrolls and columns and with the statues of Saint John the Evangelist and Saint Mary Magdalene. On the right wall, there are the Chapel of San Biagio and the Chapel of Sant’Andrea Apostolo, while on the left wall we can find the Chapel of the Holy Family and the Chapel of Saint John of Nepomuk. Read more [...]
The Roman Amphitheater of Catania is an amphitheater located at the base of the Montevergine Hill, in Piazza Stesicoro, in Catania. SHORT HISTORY The amphitheater was probably built in the 2nd century – the exact date is uncertain, but the architecture suggests the era between the emperors Hadrian and Antoninus Pius. The monument was enlarged in the 3rd century, thus tripling its size. Because the monument was abandoned for a long time, in the 5th century, Theodoric, King of the Ostrogoths, granted the inhabitants of the city the right to use the amphitheater as a quarry for building material. In the 11th century, it seems that Roger II of Sicily also used materials from the amphitheater for the construction of the Cathedral of Sant’Agata, including the granite columns that decorate the facade of the church. In the 13th century, the entrances of the monument were used by the Angevins to access the city during the so-called War of the Sicilian Vespers. In the following century, the entrances were walled up and the ruin was incorporated into the Aragonese network of fortifications. In 1505, the city senate granted Giovanni Gioeni the concession to use the stones of the monument for Read more [...]
Palazzo Speciale is a bed and breakfast in Catania, located about 300 meters from the beautiful Piazza del Duomo and the Cathedral of Sant’Agata and about 250 meters from the Ursino Castle. The B&B offers accommodations with a patio or a balcony, free WiFi and flat-screen TV, as well as a shared lounge. Some units are air-conditioned and include a seating and/or dining area. Palazzo Speciale offers a continental or buffet breakfast. HOW TO GET THERE Palazzo Speciale is located about 1.5 kilometers from the Catania Centrale railway station. The closest bus stop is right in front of the B&B, in Via Plebiscito 6, on the bus Lines 431N and 503.
Palazzo Marletta is a boutique hotel in Catania, overlooking the beautiful Piazza del Duomo, a few steps from the Cathedral of Sant’Agata. All the rooms are air conditioned and include a desk, a flat-screen TV and a private bathroom. Free WiFi is available throughout the property. The hotel offers a plentiful breakfast buffet. HOW TO GET THERE Palazzo Marletta is located about 1.4 kilometers away from the Catania Centrale railway station. The closest bus stop is in Via Vittorio Emanuele 192, about 100 meters away, on the bus Lines 830, 902 and 932.
Habitat is a modern boutique hotel in Catania, located in the historical center of the city, just a few steps from the Bellini Theater. Each room of the hotel features a flat-screen TV and air conditioning. The private bathroom also comes with a hairdryer, free toiletries and towels. The hotel has a garden, and free WiFi is available throughout the property. Other facilities include parking, 24 hours reception, relax lounge and concierge service to book cultural visits and excursions on Mount Etna and around Catania. HOW TO GET THERE Habitat Boutique Hotel is located about 1 kilometer from the Catania Centrale railway station. The closest bus stop is in Via Vittorio Emanuele 102, about 230 meters away, on the bus Lines 429, 431N, 439, 449, 530, 534, 536, 556, 628D, 925, 927 and 932.
The Church of San Nicolò l’Arena is a church in Catania, located in Piazza Dante Alighieri. The church, measuring 105 meters in length, about 71 meters in width in the transept area, with a maximum height of 66 meters at the dome, is the largest in Sicily. The first church erected by the Benedictines in Catania was entitled Sancti Nicolai de Arenis, after the Saint Nicholas of Bari and the red sandstone (rena rossa) of Nicolosi, a town in the province of Catania from which the monks arrived. SHORT HISTORY The grandiose Monastery of San Nicolò l’Arena was founded on November 28, 1558. The church was inaugurated in 1578, in the presence of the viceroy of Sicily, Juan de la Cerda. In 1669, the structure was destroyed by the Etna eruption that struck the western side of the city. Starting with 1687, the church was rebuilt further south than the original site, on a project by the Roman architect Giovanni Battista Contini. In 1693, the works were interrupted by the violent earthquake of Val di Noto, and for the next thirty years the monastery remained without a main church. In 1730, the construction of the church was resumed, and Read more [...]
Teatro Massimo Vincenzo Bellini is an opera house in Catania, named after the local-born composer Vincenzo Bellini. The theater is located in the square with the same name, about 350 meters from Piazza del Duomo and the Cathedral of Sant’Agata. SHORT HISTORY The construction of a public theater in Catania was proposed right after the earthquake of Val di Noto of 1693, which destroyed most of the cities in the area, but a foundation stone was laid only in 1812, over 100 years after the terrible event. In 1870, the architect Andrea Scala was given the task of finding a suitable site to build a new theater, and after examining the various options, it was decided for the Piazza Cutelli area. Despite the financial uncertainties, the project was approved, and Scala, with the assistance of the Milanese architect Carlo Sada, carried out the works. In 1880, the company financing the project ended up in liquidation, and was replaced by the Municipality, which decided to make some modifications to the structure of the theater. In 1887, the building was completed, but the inauguration took place only on May 31, 1890, with Norma, an opera by Vincenzo Bellini. ART AND Read more [...]
Fontana dell’Amenano is a beautiful fountain in Catania, located in the southern part of Piazza del Duomo, next to Palazzo del Seminario dei Chierici and the Cathedral of Sant’Agata. SHORT HISTORY The fountain was built in 1867 by the Neapolitan sculptor Tito Angelini. ARCHITECTURE The fountain consists of a large shell in white Carrara marble, in which stands the statue of the river Amenano, represented as a young man. The statue holds a cornucopia from which water flows into a convex basin. On each side of the statue, there is the sculpture of a triton. The shell rests on a base on which is placed the coat of arms of the city. On the opposite side of the fountain, we can find an emblem that contains the year in which the monument was inaugurated. From the basin of the fountain, the water pours into the underground river Amenano, located about two meters below the square level. Behind the fountain, a lava stone staircase leads to the Pescheria, the ancient city market of Catania. HOW TO GET THERE Fontana dell’Amenano is located about 1.4 kilometers from the Catania Centrale railway station. The closest bus stop is located right Read more [...]
Piazza del Duomo is the main square of Catania, located at the intersection of three important roads – Via Etnea, the historical axis of the city, Via Giuseppe Garibaldi and Via Vittorio Emanuele II. ARCHITECTURE On the eastern side of the square, stands the Cathedral of Sant’Agata, Duomo di Catania, from which the square takes its name. The Cathedral was destroyed by the earthquake of 1693, and was rebuilt in the 18th century by the architect Girolamo Palazzotto, with the facade designed by Giovanni Battista Vaccarini. In 1857, the bell tower of the Cathedral was completed, and the current layout of the churchyard appeared in the 19th century. To the south of the square, there is Palazzo del Seminario dei Chierici, a Baroque palace rebuilt after the earthquake of Val di Noto, in the first decades of the 18th century, by the architect Alonzo di Benedetto, and subsequently enlarged in 1757 by Francesco Battaglia. Between the Palace of the Seminary of the Clerics and the Cathedral of Sant’Agata, there is Porta Uzeda, which connects the two buildings mentioned above, beeing also the southern entrance to the square. The Uzeda Gate was named after the Spanish viceroy of Sicily Juan Read more [...]
Palazzo del Seminario dei Chierici (Palace of the Seminary of the Clerics) is a Baroque palace in Catania, located across the Piazza Duomo from the Palazzo degli Elefanti, near the Cathedral of Sant’Agata. SHORT HISTORY During the Aragonese period, on the site of the present palace, there was the ancient structure of the Bishop’s Palace. In 1572, the archbishop Antonio Faraone founded the seminary of the clerics, and some rooms of the palace were reserved for this institution. Beginning with 1614, Bonaventura Secusio, Bishop of Catania between 1609 and 1618, established the seminary headquarters in the building. On May 29, 1647, during the anti-Spanish revolt of Catania, the palace was severely damaged. In 1693, the building was completely destroyed by the earthquake of Val di Noto. In the first decades of the 18th century, the palace was rebuilt by the architect Alonzo di Benedetto, and subsequently enlarged in 1757 by Francesco Battaglia. In 1866, the architect Mario Di Stefano further expanded the structure, by building the second floor. Beginning with 1943, due to the Second World War, the seminarians left the building, which was later damaged by bombing. In 1944, the palace was acquired by the Municipality of Catania, Read more [...]
Palazzo degli Elefanti (Palace of the Elephants), formerly known as Palazzo del Senato, is a Baroque palace in Catania, located in Piazza Duomo, close to the Cathedral of Sant’Agata. The name of the palace derives from the numerous elephants carved on its facade. SHORT HISTORY During the Aragonese period, the palace, called Palazzo Senatorio, served as a municipal archive. The city representatives gathered in the palace and, sometimes, also the parliament assembled within its walls. Lope Ximénez de Urrea y de Bardaixi, Viceroy of Sicily between 1443 and 1475, ordered that all the official documents of the Kingdom and the various writings related to the Aragonese sovereigns to be collected and kept in the archives of the palace. After the earthquake of 1693, which destroyed almost completely the city of Catania, numerous architects participated in the reconstruction of the palace. The original project was carried out by Giovan Battista Longobardo, with the collaboration of Giovanni Battista Vaccarini, who built the east, south and west facades, and of Carmelo Battaglia, who designed the north facade. The grand staircase found in the inner courtyard of the palace was built in the 19th century by Stefano Ittar. On December 14, 1944, following Read more [...]
Basilica della Collegiata, also known as Basilica Maria Santissima dell’Elemosina, is a Baroque church in Catania, located along Via Etnea, a short distance from the Palace of the University. SHORT HISTORY In the early Christian centuries, a small church dedicated to the Virgin Mary was built on the site of an ancient pagan temple dedicated to Proserpina. In the Byzantine era, the church was dedicated to Madonna dell’Elemosina. The church was rebuilt in the early 18th century, like most of the city of Catania, destroyed by the terrible earthquake of 1693. In 1896, Giuseppe Sciuti frescoed the vault and the dome of the church with various paintings of the Blessed Virgin Mary, angels and saints. ART AND ARCHITECTURE The project of the church is attributed to Angelo Italia, an Italian architect who lived in the 17th century, who changed the orientation of the building, in order to have it facing Via Etnea. The facade, designed by Stefano Ittar, is a beautiful example of the Sicilian Baroque. The facade has two orders, with six stone columns on the first order, surmounted by a balustrade. On the second order, there is a central window and four large statues of Saint Read more [...]
The Church of San Placido is a church in Catania, located in the square of the same name, about 120 meters from the Cathedral of Sant’Agata. SHORT HISTORY The original structure of the church dates back to 1409, and was built on the ruins of an ancient pagan temple dedicated to Bacchus. The church was razed to the ground by the catastrophic earthquake of 1693, which almost completely destroyed the city of Catania. On the initiative of three nuns who escaped the ruins of the church, the reconstruction, entrusted to the architect Stefano Ittar, began shortly after the earthquake. The new church was consecrated in 1723 and completed in 1769. In 1976, the church was closed due to structural problems and, after about three years of consolidation, it was reopened for worship in 1979. ART AND ARCHITECTURE The facade of the church, in Sicilian Baroque style, is made of white Taormina stone. On each side of the portal, there are the statues of saints Placido and Benedetto, and above, on the second order, smaller, those of the saints Scolastica and Geltrude, work of the sculptor Carmelo Distefano. The facade, concave in the center, is enclosed by a convex Read more [...]
Palazzo San Giuliano is a beautiful palace in Catania, located across the University Square from the Palace of the University. The palace houses the administrative offices of the University of Catania. SHORT HISTORY The palace was built in 1738 by the architect Giovan Battista Vaccarini for the Paternò family, Marquise of San Giuliano. The seismic events that took place over time have not affected the 18th-century structure, but the transformations made during the 19th and 20th centuries changed more or less its internal and external appearance. The building was remodeled several times, but the facade remained almost intact from the moment of its construction. Only the balustrade that crowns the roof was added in 1930s, when the palace was the seat of Credito Italiano, one of the first Italian banks. In the early 20th century, the palace hosted the Machiavelli Theater, founded by Angelo Grasso. Around the same time, a part of the building was occupied by the Hotel Bristol. ARCHITECTURE The facade of the palace has a large portal that overlooks the University Square, flanked by two marble columns recovered, probably, from a Roman building. Above the portal, there is a double coat of arms – to Read more [...]
Palazzo dell’Università (Palace of the University) is a beautiful palace in Catania, located in the square with the same name, along Via Etnea. The palace is the seat of the Rectorate of the University of Catania, the oldest university in Sicily. SHORT HISTORY The University of Catania was founded on October 19, 1434, by Alfonso the Magnanimous, King of Naples and Sicily. On April 18, 1444, the constitution of the University was authorized by a papal bull of Pope Eugene IV. The courses began on October 19, 1445, with six professors, and were initially held in a building from Piazza Duomo, near the Cathedral of Sant’Agata. In 1684, the University was transferred to the San Marco Hospital until 1693, when the terrible earthquake of Val di Noto destroyed most of the buildings in Catania, including the building in question. In 1696, work began on the construction of a new building, which will become the definitive location of the University. After the earthquake of 1785, the architect Francesco Battaglia rebuilt the facade of the palace. Subsequently, following the earthquake of 1818, a further restoration was necessary, which was entrusted to the architect Antonino Battaglia, the son of Francesco. Further and Read more [...]
Castello Ursino is an interesting castle in Catania, former seat of the Sicilian parliament starting with the 13th century and the residence of the Aragonese sovereigns until the 15th century. Since 20 October 1934, the castle is home to the Civic Museum. SHORT HISTORY The Ursino Castle was built in the 13th century by Frederick II of Swabia, King of Sicily and Holy Roman Emperor, as part of the defensive system of the eastern Sicily, which also included the Maniace Castle of Syracuse and the Swabian Castle of Augusta. The project was entrusted to the military architect Riccardo da Lentini. In 1296, the castle was taken by Robert of Anjou, King of Naples, and subsequently was conquered again by the Aragonese. The King Frederick III of Sicily inhabited the castle from the end of the 13th century until his death, in 1337. In the early 15th century, the castle was surrounded by various buildings, and Martin I, King of Sicily, cleared the space around it, to obtain a square named today Piazza Federico di Svevia. In the 16th century, a bastion called San Giorgio was built to defend the castle and some changes were made in Renaissance style. Starting Read more [...]
Porta Garibaldi (Garibaldi Gate), called also Porta Ferdinandea, in honor of Ferdinand I, King of the Two Sicilies, is a triumphal arch located at the western end of Via Giuseppe Garibaldi, between Piazza Palestro and Piazza Crocifisso, in Catania. Through the gate, it can be seen in the distance, at the other end of Via Garibaldi, the wonderful Cathedral of Sant’Agata. SHORT HISTORY In ancient times, the gates to a city were very important, from the defense point of view. The gates were, in fact, the last barrier against a possible siege. The walls that surrounded Catania were built starting with 1541, on the initiative of the Viceroy Giovanni Vega. In 1621, there were seven gates, and three more were added later. The first seven gates were built for defensive purposes, while the other three had only an ornamental function. One of the last three gates was Porta Ferdinandea, built in 1768 to celebrate the marriage between Ferdinand I of The Two Sicilies and Maria Carolina of Austria. The gate was designed by the architects Stefano Ittar and Francesco Battaglia. Another name of the gate is Porta del Fortino, which comes from a fort built by the Viceroy Claudio Read more [...]