The church had a tumultuous history, being repeatedly destroyed and rebuilt after the earthquakes that occurred in the area.
A first church was built around 1086 on the ruins of the Achilliane Baths dating back to Roman times. On 4 February 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.
In 1693, the earthquake that struck the area 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 in 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.
The facade of the Cathedral, built in Baroque style, is composed of three Corinthian style orders. The first order consists of six granite columns of ancient origin, surmounted by the coat of arms of the noble Galletti family.
The second order also has six columns and two smaller ones on each side of the large central window. The orders are adorned with marble statues of St. Agatha, in the middle, above the main door, Saint Euplius, on the right, and Saint Birillus, on the left.
The main wooden door consists of thirty-two panels, finely carved, illustrating various portraits and scenes. On each side of the main door are the marble statues of St. Peter and St. Paul.
The dome of the church dates back to 1802, built after a project by Carmelo Battaglia. The dome is equipped with columns and large windows that illuminate the interior. Between 1867 and 1869, the architect Carmelo Sciuto Patti built the current bell tower and the lantern of the dome.
The church has a Latin cross plan, with a nave and two aisles. The apse dates back to the original construction from the 12th century.
TIP: Between the central nave of the church and the right one, leaning against one of the twelve pillars that separate the naves, is the funerary monument of the Italian opera composer Vincenzo Bellini, whose body was transferred to the Cathedral on October 23, 1876, from the Parisian cemetery Père Lachaise.
HOW TO GET THERE
The Cathedral of Sant’Agata is located in Piazza del Duomo, about 1.4 kilometers away from the main train station of the city, Catania Stazione Centrale. The closest bus station is in Via Vittorio Emanuele 192, located near the Cathedral, on the bus Lines 830, 902 and 932.