Sicily DMC – Catania lies cradled amidst the splendid greenery of its surroundings, yet at the same time opens out to the sea, welcoming us with its grand piazzas, wide roads, and architecture in lavic rock.
The city is full of attractions, offering historic and artistic wonders for everyone. Remnants of history prove that the various cultures that have left their mark; the people have absorbed the influences of their many rulers, as seen in the architectonic lines of the buildings, churches and monuments.
Its Duomo is a magnificent example. Reconstructed with the use of materials recovered from Roman-era buildings – such as the marble columns that decorate its courtyards – it looks out onto the piazza carrying its name (which after the earthquake was designed to leave ample space between buildings in the event of another destructive earthquake).
It is dedicated to the city’s Patron, St. Agata, whose statue surmounts the main façade designed by Giovan Battista Vaccarini. Besides the church, the splendid Piazza Duomo is surrounded by the Palazzo Senatorio and elegant noble buildings arranged around the Fontana dell’Elefante, the symbol of the city.
The monument, also the work of Vaccarini, is a kind of historical stratification: the base (the elephant) recalls Carthaginian civilization, the obelisk recalls that Egyptian, and the cross, palms and globe refer to Christianity.
Piazza dell’Università is dominated by the grand façade of the University, the construction of which was authorized by Alfonso V of Aragon; it was reconstructed after the earthquake, with a design by the ear’s great architects.
Vaccarini built two floors of the internal courtyard, the colonnade and the dual-colored flooring. The Collegiata or Regia Chapel is another magnificent example of the architectonic splendor that came about during the century of reconstruction (the interior was decorated by Giuseppe Sciuti).
Colossal, even if unfinished, is the Benedictine Monastery of San Nicolò, with interventions by Battaglia, Vaccarini and Amato. The Ursino Castle, commissioned by Frederick II, survived the catastrophic events of the 17th Century.
It was originally located on the coastal stretch, but a volcanic eruption modified its structure; thus, the castle is now set further back compared to its initial position.
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