Si Trova: In Piazza Duomo a Catania
Lat: 37° 30' 8.772411" N - Long: 15° 5' 16.47062" E
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Named after the patron St Agata, the Cathedral of Catania is a direct witness to the last thousand years of the town's history.
Between 1078 and 1093 the Great Count Ruggero built the Norman cathedral which, as befits the architecture of the period, was a fortified church, in defense of the adjoining beach.
For its construction, large blocks of lava stone, already belonging to other structures of Catania dating back to the Roman period, were reused.
After various devastations, the last in order of time the disastrous earthquake of 1693, the transept and the apses remain standing of the first cathedral, which was also endowed with a very tall bell tower.
From the courtyard of the archbishopric, with access from Via Vittorio Emanuele, it is still possible to admire the Norman structure of apses, and the ancient battlements to protect the walkway are still visible.
Other remains of the ancient walls are incorporated into the structures reconstructed after the earthquake.
The cathedral as we see it today is a work of 1711.
The façade is by Giambattista Vaccarini, and probably also the north side.
The last alterations of the nineteenth century have included the dome and the bell tower.
The interior has numerous altars at the sides, and two rows of pillars that divide it into the three naves.
In the second pillar on the right there's the tomb of the musician Vincenzo Bellini.
Between the two successive pillars, at a lower level, there's the base of a column belonging to the Swabian period of the cathedral; similarly it is located between the pillars of the left row.
Further on, in an altar on the right, there is the incorrupt body of Cardinal Dusmet, beloved by the people of Catania in the nineteenth century.
In the transept, on the right there the access to the chapel of the Madonna; here a Roman sarcophagus preserves the remains of the Aragonese kings of Sicily who resided in Catania: King Frederick II of Aragon, his son Giovanni, his nephew Ludovico, his great-granddaughter and queen of Sicily Maria, and Federico, son of Maria; another beautiful sarcophagus, from the Middle Ages, houses the remains of Queen Constance of Aragon, wife of Frederick II of Aragon.
In front there is the very ornate chapel of St Agata, protected by a wrought iron gate; inside there is on the right the tomb of the viceroy Ferdinando de Acuna, represented in a praying position, in the center a large marble triptych that represents St Agata crowned by Jesus and the Magdalene between Saints Peter and Paul, and finally on the left a very ornate portal preserves the relics and the rich treasure of St Agata.
The only moments of the year in which it is possible to see the relics and the treasure of Saint Agatha are during the great festivities of 3, 4 and 5 February, and on 17 August, the anniversary of the return of the relics of the saint to Catania.
The central apse of the cathedral is decorated with the Triumph of St Agata; below a beautiful wooden choir.
On the left side of the transept, in the chapel of the crucifix, the Norman vaults are visible.
On the left we find the sacristy with a fresco depicting the eruption of Etna in 1669 that struck Catania: a very interesting work as it allows us to see what the town was like before the disastrous earthquake of 1692.
Today we discover...
The oldest dam in Sicily
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