All SEE in Catania

One of the most beautiful countries in the world, Italy is well known for its rich art and culture, and for its numerous landmarks. With 54 UNESCO World Heritage Sites, more than any other country in the world, and an estimated 100,000 monuments of any sort (churches, palaces, museums, fountains, sculptures and archaeological remains), Italy is home to about half of the world’s artistic treasures. And if you are looking for inspiration, here is a list of Italy’s best-known attractions and sights…

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    Catania Cathedral of Sant’Agata

    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 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.   ARCHITECTURE The facade of the Cathedral, built in Read more [...]

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    Church of San Nicolò l’Arena

    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 the 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, Read more [...]

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    Teatro Massimo Vincenzo Bellini

    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 the 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 the 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.   Read more [...]

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    Fontana dell’Amenano

    Fontana dell’Amenano is a beautiful fountain in Catania, located in the southern part of Piazza del Duomo, next to the Palazzo del Seminario dei Chierici and near 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 Read more [...]

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    Piazza del Duomo

    Piazza del Duomo is the main square of Catania, located at the intersection of three important boulevards – 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 the Palazzo del Seminario dei Chierici, a Baroque palace rebuilt after the earthquake of the 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 the 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 Read more [...]

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    Palazzo del Seminario dei Chierici

    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 the 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 Read more [...]

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    Palazzo degli Elefanti

    Palazzo degli Elefanti (Palace of the Elephants), formerly known as Palazzo del Senato, is a Baroque palace in Catania, located in the 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 that can be found in the inner courtyard of the palace was built in the 19th century by Stefano Ittar. On Read more [...]

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    Basilica della Collegiata

    Basilica della Collegiata, also known as Basilica Maria Santissima dell’Elemosina, is a Baroque church in Catania, located along the 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 called 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 the 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 Read more [...]

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    Church of San Placido

    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 [...]

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    Palazzo San Giuliano

    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 [...]

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    Palazzo dell’Università

    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.   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 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. Read more [...]

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    Castello Ursino

    Castello Ursino is an interesting castle in Catania, former seat of the Sicilian parliament starting with the 13th century and 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 the Renaissance style. Starting Read more [...]

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    Porta Garibaldi

    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 [...]