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WHAT TO SEE IN CATANIA Print
Cathedral (Duomo) – the Chapel of Sant’Agata. Catania's Cathedral was built in the 12th century, and was then entirely rebuilt in 1600 after the earthquake and the volcano eruption destroyed most of the city. The Chapel of Sant’Agata, the city’s patron saint is inside the Cathedral, where precious treasures are kept.
Church of San Giuliano
This is thought to be one of the Catania’s most beautiful churches. It has a splendid dome enclosed in a polygonal open gallery and its interior is full of marble decoration and a golden-bronze altar. The church was built in the first half of the eighteenth century by Vaccarini.
Church of San Nicola
This majestic church was first built in 1687, but work was interrupted by the earthquake (1693) that destroyed most of the city's buildings. Building began again and the church was finished. The spaces inside the church are noteworthy: the aisle and two naves inside are 105 meters long and the dome is 62 meters wide.
Benedictine Monastery
The Benedictine Monastery, one of the largest in Europe, is more like a palace than a religious building, an aspect that is probably due to close links with the Benedictine monks and the Catania nobility. In the eighteenth century it was one of the most important cultural centers in the whole of Sicily, attracting many visitors who were amazed by the luxury and the pomp of the building. It is now the Faculty of Literature and Philosophy for the University of Catania.
Basilica of San Nicolò l’Arena
This imposing religious building, next to the Monastery, dates back to the end of the seventeenth century and is still partly unfinished. San Nicolò l’Arena was built modeled on the basilicas in Rome, following the wishes of the Benedictine monks. The interior of the church is almost totally bare.
Emilio Greco Museum
This museum, opened in 1994, contains about 1500 graphic works by the Catania artist: engravings, lithographs and etchings, including the famous “Commiati”.
Giovanni Verga's House Museum
This eighteenth-century palace, that is in Via Sant’Anna, was the home of Giovanni Verga during the last twenty years of his life. Inside the house there are many objects that belonged to the famous veristic writer. The library that contains almost 3000 volumes by various authors such Deledda, Tolstoy, Gorky, Flaubert and Dumas is extremely valuable.
Bellini Civic Museum
This is the house where the famous composer lived before he moved to Naples. The museum is spread over a route that shows the private and artistic life of Vincenzo Bellini. There are also some very interesting, original musical manuscripts signed by the artist inside the museum.
Biscari Museum
The wonderful Palazzo Biscari, which is one of the most beautiful buildings in the city, was the residence of Prince Biscari. Inside there are halls full of frescoes, galleries, archaeological finds, statues, marble and other artistic wonders.
Botanic gardens
These beautiful gardens spread over a surface area of 16,000 square meters where there are also some neoclassical buildings. Inside these buildings that are used as greenhouses, there are many rare, exotic, aquatic and Sicilian plants.
Bellini Gardens
This is the Catania inhabitants’ famous place for relaxing, going for a walk and admiring the wonderful view that spreads from the city to Mount Etna. The Villa Bellini Gardens spread over about 70,000 square meters where there are avenues, squares, bridges, borders and fountains. There are statues representing the seven arts at the main entrance to the gardens.
Via dei Crociferi
This Avenue is a true triumph of eighteenth-century Baroque style, one of the most charming in Catania, where there is a never-ending, opulent line of religious buildings such as the Church of San Benedetto, the Church of the Jesuits and the Church of San Giuliano.
Piazza Duomo
This is the heart of Catania, with the city’s symbol monument: the fountain with the Elephant. The city’s cathedral with the Chapel of Sant’Agata looks out onto this square, where precious treasures are kept. There is also Palazzo degli Elefanti which is the City Hall. One of Catania’s most interesting roads starts from Piazza Duomo - Via Etnea, where there are splendid Baroque buildings with lava dust façades and a multitude of shops and confectioners.
The Elephant
The Elephant, symbol of the city of Catania since 1200, is located in the center of Piazza Duomo. This is a lava-stone statue that dates back to the Roman era, mounted on a more modern structure by Vaccarini from the eighteenth century. Legend goes that this animal became the city symbol because in ancient times pigmy elephants lived in this place, that protected the city’s inhabitants by chasing away fierce animals.
Castel Ursino
This fortress is the only medieval building that survived the destruction that nature wreaked upon the city and is still almost intact today. It was built around 1240 to protect the city from the sea, and was used as a royal residence and as a prison. It has been the home of the Civic Museum since 1934 and it houses paintings, sculptures, bronzes and ceramics from various eras.
Bellini Theater
This impressive theater was opened in 1890 with the staging of Bellini’s famous opera the “Norma”. The Theater style reminds one of the Opera House in Paris: there is a lot of wrought iron in the portico, a large theater with four tiers and a gallery, corridors, and frescoed ceilings.

 
 

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