Palazzo dell’Università (Palace of the University) is a beautiful palace in Catania, located in the square with the same name, along the Via Etnea. The palace is the seat of the Rectorate of the University of Catania, the oldest university in Sicily.
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 the 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 significant transformations of the ground floor were made by the engineer Mario Di Stefano in 1879.
The facade of the building has a large portal that overlooks the University Square, flanked by four marble columns. Above the portal, there is a coat of arms with the seal of the Paternò Castello family, and above that, a coat of arms with the emblem of the Asmundo family.
Inside, there is a large courtyard in the shape of a cloister, with doors originally opened on all four sides of the building. The palace has a splendid Aula Magna frescoed by Giovan Battista Piparo.
HOW TO GET THERE
Palazzo dell’Università is located about 1.5 kilometers from the Catania Centrale railway station. The closest bus station is Via Vittorio Emanuele 192, about 190 meters away, on the bus Lines 830, 902 and 932.