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.
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 of Sicily Juan Francisco Pacheco y Téllez-Girón, Duke of Uceda.
To the right of the Palace of the Seminary of the Clerics, there is the Amenano Fountain (Fontana dell’Amenano), a beautiful fountain built in 1867 in Carrara marble by the Neapolitan sculptor Tito Angelini. The sculpture depicts the Amenano river as a young man holding a cornucopia from which water flows into a convex basin.
Across the square from the Palazzo dei Chierici, we can find the Palazzo degli Elefanti, where the Town Hall is housed. Like most buildings in Catania, the Palace of the Elephants was also destroyed by the earthquake of 1693. The palazzo was rebuilt after the terrible event by Giovan Battista Longobardo, with the collaboration of Giovanni Battista Vaccarini, responsible for the east, south and west facades, and of Carmelo Battaglia, who designed the north facade.
In the center of the square, we can find the symbol of Catania, the Fountain of the Elephant (Fontana dell’Elefante), with a lava stone statue depicting an elephant, surmounted by an obelisk, placed in the center of a marble fountain that was rebuilt several times over centuries.
About 5 meters below the square, there are the Achillian Baths (Terme Achilliane), underground thermal structures dated to the 4th or 5th century AD. Access to the baths is made through a short flight of steps to the left of the Cathedral.
HOW TO GET THERE
Piazza del Duomo is located about 1.3 kilometers from the Catania Centrale railway station. The closest bus station is in Via Vittorio Emanuele 192, located to the north of the square, on the bus Lines 830, 902 and 932.