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.
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 Lamoraldo, Prince of Ligne, after Mount Etna erupted in 1669.
After the end of the Bourbon domination, in 1862, the gate changed its name and officially became Porta Garibaldi, in honor of the revolutionary who liberated the island.
Porta Garibaldi was built in Baroque style from two types of stone: black stone from Mount Etna and white stone from Lentini.
On top, it features a clock, which replaced an equally large medallion engraved with the portraits of Ferdinand I and his wife. On the side of the gate facing Via Garibaldi, under the clock, stands the phrase melior de cinere surgo, which in English means rising stronger from my own ash.
HOW TO GET THERE
The gate is about 2.5 kilometers away from the Catania Stazione Centrale, the main train station of the city. From the Cathedral of Sant’Agata to Porta Garibaldi, in straight line, along Via Giuseppe Garibaldi, there are about 1.2 kilometers or about 15 minutes on foot. If you need precise directions to the gate, from any point of the city, use the map below.