The Roman Amphitheater of Catania is an amphitheater located at the base of the Montevergine Hill, in Piazza Stesicoro, in Catania. SHORT HISTORY The amphitheater was probably built in the 2nd century – the exact date is uncertain, but the architecture suggests the era between the emperors Hadrian and Antoninus Pius. The monument was enlarged in the 3rd century, thus tripling its size. Because the monument was abandoned for a long time, in the 5th century, Theodoric, King of the Ostrogoths, granted the inhabitants of the city the right to use the amphitheater as a quarry for building material. In the 11th century, it seems that Roger II of Sicily also used materials from the amphitheater for the construction of the Cathedral of Sant’Agata, including the granite columns that decorate the facade of the church. In the 13th century, the entrances of the monument were used by the Angevins to access the city during the so-called War of the Sicilian Vespers. In the following century, the entrances were walled up and the ruin was incorporated into the Aragonese network of fortifications. In 1505, the city senate granted Giovanni Gioeni the concession to use the stones of the monument for Read more [...]
Torre dell’Orologio (Clock Tower) is a medieval tower and, at the same time, a city gate located in Piazza IX Aprile, in Taormina. Due to its location, about halfway between Porta Messina and Porta Catania, along Corso Umberto, the tower is also known as Torre di Mezzo (Middle Tower) or Porta di Mezzo (Middle Gate). The tower actually separates the medieval part of the town from the ancient Greco-Roman part of Taormina. SHORT HISTORY Torre di Mezzo was built in the 12th century on Greco-Roman foundations. In 1676, the tower was destroyed by the French troops of Louis XIV, the Sun King. Three years later, in 1679, the tower was rebuilt, and the clock was installed. From that moment on, the tower became known as Torre dell’Orologio. The bells of the tower ring on two occasions – on the election day of the town’s mayor, and on July 9, when the patron saint of Taormina, San Pancrazio, is celebrated. HOW TO GET THERE Torre dell’Orologio is located about 450 meters away from Porta Messina and about 350 meters from Porta Catania. Because the historical center of Taormina is entirely pedestrian, you can reach the tower only on foot.
The Temple of Apollo (Tempio di Apollo) is one of the most important ancient monuments of Syracuse, located in Largo XXV Luglio, on the island of Ortygia. SHORT HISTORY The temple can be dated to the beginning of the 6th century BC, being considered the oldest Doric temple in Sicily. Over time, the temple underwent several transformations. In the first half of the first millennium of our era, it was a Byzantine church, of which the frontal staircase and parts of a central portal are still preserved, and then it became an Islamic mosque. Subsequently, the Norman Church of the Savior was built on its place, which was later incorporated into a 16th-century Spanish barracks, while some architectural elements remained visible. These successive transformations seriously damaged the building, which was rediscovered around 1860 inside the Spanish barracks, and was brought to light thanks to the excavations carried out by Paolo Orsi between 1938 and 1942. ARCHITECTURE The temple has a lenght of 55.36 meters and a width of 21.47 meters. It is one of the first Greek temples made of stone, marking the transition from the ancient wooden structures. The building has a hexastyle front and a continuous Read more [...]
Portale di San Giorgio (Portal of Saint George) is a monument in Ragusa, located in Ragusa Ibla – the ancient center of the city, a few meters away from the Hyblean Garden and the Church of San Vincenzo Ferreri. The Portal is part of the ancient Church of San Giorgio, now demolished. SHORT HISTORY During the second half of the 11th century, Geoffrey, the second eldest son of Roger I of Sicily and the Count of Ragusa, took care of the ancient Church of San Giorgio, expanding it. The Portal of Saint George was built during the first half of the 13th century in Catalan Gothic style, as part of the church. Starting with 1308, the church passed under the patronage of the noble Chiaramonte family, and later, after 1382, under the patronage of the Cabrera family, which began extensive reconstruction works on the building. In the 16th century, the Church of San Giorgio was rebuilt, but suffered some damage during the earthquake of 1542. During the 17th century, Pope Urban VIII proclaimed St. George patron saint of the town, and the church became the most important church in Ragusa. The earthquake of 1693 seriously damaged the church and, Read more [...]
Cubula, also known as Piccola Cuba (Small Cuba) is an Arab-Norman edifice in Palermo, located within the immense hunting resort of King William II of Sicily, Genoardo. SHORT HISTORY Genoardo (from the Arabic Jannat al-arḍ, meaning Paradise on Earth), was a large royal park crowded with trees of all species, but especially with citrus and magnolia, in which were found numerous kiosks, residences, fountains and ponds. Of these, worth mentioning are the Cuba Sottana, or Palazzo della Cuba, a structure that still exists, and Cuba Soprana, a Norman tower incorporated during the 18th century in the beautiful palace Villa Napoli. Cubula was built in 1184 by Fatimid architects. The kiosk was probably in the middle of a lake that extended to Cuba Soprana. Because of its particular location, surrounded by greenery, Cubula was often used as a resting place by the Norman sovereign and his guests. ARCHITECTURE Cubula has a square plan with pointed arches on each side, decorated with rusticated bands and surmounted by a hemispherical dome in the typical red color of Arab-Norman style. The small building uses motifs found on other edifices in Palermo, such as the Basilica La Magione and the Church of the Read more [...]
Porta Felice is one of the monumental gates of Palermo, located near the sea, at the beginning of the Via Vittorio Emanuele, one of the main axes of the city. SHORT HISTORY The gate takes its name from Donna Felice Orsini, wife of the Spanish Viceroy Marcantonio Colonna, who, in 1582, decided to give a monumental entrance to the Cassaro, the most ancient street in Palermo, the current Via Vittorio Emanuele. After the death of Colonna, the construction of the gate, consisting of two imposing pylons designed by the architect Mariano Smiriglio, resumed under the mandate of the Viceroy Lorenzo Suárez de Figueroa y Córdoba, Duke of Feria. The works were completed in 1637, during the viceroyalty of Luigi Guglielmo I Moncada, Duke of Montalto. During the Second World War, the right pillar was almost entirely destroyed, but a careful restoration brought the monument back to its former glory, though losing some of the original decorative elements. ARCHITECTURE The internal facade overlooking the city was built in Renaissance style, while the facade overlooking the sea, completed by the architects Pietro Novelli, Mariano Smiriglio and Vincenzo Tedeschi, was realised with coatings and sculptures in grey marble typical of Baroque Read more [...]
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 [...]
Temple of Diana (Tempio di Diana) is a megalithic structure found about 150 meters above the sea leavel, on the imposing Rocca, the rocky hill dominating the town of Cefalù. SHORT HISTORY Some historians claimed that the Temple of Diana is the oldest structure in Sicily, built in the 5th or 4th century B.C. over an existing cistern associated with the worship of water. The incorporated dolmenic cistern is considered of proto-historic origin by many historians. In the 12th century, the structure was used as a chapel, remains of an apse and arched windows being visible in the rear and interior of the temple. The first official archaeological excavations were made by Pirro Marconi in the first half of the 20th century. The excavations allowed to acquire more informations about the age of the building and its role, the conclusion being that the structure was a temple dedicated to the sun. ARCHITECTURE The temple has a main entrance oriented to the west, from which starts a corridor leading to the rocky cistern characterized by a dolmenic coverage. The front door is not at the center of the building, but near the north-west corner, measuring 2.68 meters in height Read more [...]