Top Historic Sights in Catania, Italy

Explore the historic highlights of Catania

Palazzo degli Elefanti

Palazzo degli Elefanti ('Elephants Palace') currently houses the Town Hall of Catania. The palace, located on the northern side of the Cathedral square, was begun in 1696 after the devastating earthquake of 1693, its original designed having been commissioned to Giovan Battista Longobardo. The eastern, southern, and western façades were however designed at a later stage by Giovan Battista Vaccarini, while th ...
Founded: 1696 | Location: Catania, Italy

Terme Achilliane

The 'Achillian' Baths are numbered amongst the principal public bathing establishments of Roman date which survive in Catania, alongside the Terme dell"Indirizzo and the Terme della Rotonda, and constitute a mysterious and highly suggestive place. They are located beneath the Piazza Duomo and may be reached through a narrow underground passage next to the principal façade of the Cathedral. The name derive ...
Founded: 2nd century AD | Location: Catania, Italy

Catania Cathedral

Catania Cathedral has been destroyed and rebuilt several times because of earthquakes and eruptions of the nearby Mount Etna. It was originally constructed in 1078-1093, on the ruins of the ancient Roman Achillean Baths, by order of Roger I of Sicily, who had conquered the city from the Islamic emirate of Sicily. At the time it had the appearance of a fortified church. In 1169 it was almost entirely destroyed by an eart ...
Founded: 1711 | Location: Catania, Italy

University of Catania

The University of Catania is the oldest university in Sicily and the 13th oldest in Italy. The university was founded by King Alfonso V of Aragon (who was also King Alfonso I of Sicily) on 19 October 1434. Alfonso V with this gesture wanted to compensate the city (in which there had been recently established the Royal Court) for moving the Sicilian capital from Catania to Palermo. The activity of the Atheneum actually st ...
Founded: 1434 | Location: Catania, Italy

Basilica della Collegiata

The Basilica della Collegiata was built in the early 18th century, after the earthquake of 1693 that had destroyed most of the city. The design of the church is attributed to Angelo Italia (1628–1700), who changed the orientation of the previous edifice destroyed by the earthquake, in order to have it facing the new via Uzeda (current Etnea Street) according to the rebuilding plan of the city. The façade, design ...
Founded: 1768 | Location: Catania, Italy

Roman Amphitheatre of Catania

The amphitheatre of Catania is the most complicated and largest of all the amphitheatres in Sicily. It was built in the Roman Imperial period, probably in the 2nd century AD, on the northern edge of the ancient city at the base of the Montevergine hill. Only a small section of the structure is now visible, below ground level, to the north of Piazza Stesicoro. The external diameter was 125 x 105 metres, while the external ...
Founded: 2nd century AD | Location: Catania, Italy

San Benedetto Church

Dedicated to St. Benedict of Nursia, the church of San Benedetto was built from April 1334, then it was destroyed by 1693 Sicily earthquake. The church and the monastery were rebuilt between 1708 and 1763 and Giovanni Battista Vaccarini was one of the main architects. The church was also damaged by bombing in World War II and later restored by the architect Armand Dillon. Its most famous feature is the Angel"s Stai ...
Founded: 1708-1763 | Location: Catania, Italy

Teatro Massimo Bellini

The Teatro Massimo Bellini is an opera house in Catania. Named after the local-born composer Vincenzo Bellini, it was inaugurated in 1890 with a performance of the composer"s masterwork, Norma.  The exterior of the house matches the distinctive Sicilian Baroque style of the neighboring buildings of the late 17th Century. Its marble foyer, the “Ridotto”, is ornate and stuccoed, and a statue of Bellini is locat ...
Founded: 1890 | Location: Catania, Italy

The Roman Theatre of Catania

The Roman Theatre of Catania was built in the 1st and 2nd centuries AD to the remains of earlier Greek theatre. It had seats for 7000 visitors.
Founded: 1st century AD | Location: Catania, Italy

Monastery of San Nicolò l'Arena

The Benedictine Monastery of San Nicolò l"Arena in Catania, Sicily, is one of the largest monasteries in Europe and the second biggest Benedictine monastery in Europe. The monastery was founded in 1558 and today it hosts the Department of Humanities of the University of Catania. The monastery complex is located in the historical centre of the city of Catania, with the church of San Nicolò l"Arena. It shows a ...
Founded: 1558 | Location: Catania, Italy

Palazzo Biscari

Palazzo Biscari was built by will of the Paternò Castello family, the princes of Biscari, starting from the late 17th century, lasting for much of the following century, after the devastations of the 1693 earthquake. The new palace was built directly against the city walls (Charles V"s walls), which had partially withstood the earthquake. The oldest section was built under Ignazio, third prince of Biscari, who ent ...
Founded: 1763 | Location: Catania, Italy

Ursino Castle

Castello Ursino was built between 1239 and 1250, as one of the royal castles of Emperor Frederick II, King of Sicily. In 1295, during the Sicilian Vespers, the Parliament which declared deposed James II of Aragon as King of Sicily, replacing him with Frederick III, was held here. The following year it was captured by Robert of Anjou but was later again in Aragonese hands. After the move of the capital away from Catania a ...
Founded: 1239-1250 | Location: Catania, Italy

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Gruyères Castle

The Castle of Gruyères is one of the most famous in Switzerland. It was built between 1270 and 1282, following the typical square plan of the fortifications in Savoy. It was the property of the Counts of Gruyères until the bankruptcy of the Count Michel in 1554. His creditors the cantons of Fribourg and Bern shared his earldom. From 1555 to 1798 the castle became residence to the bailiffs and then to the prefects sent by Fribourg.

In 1849 the castle was sold to the Bovy and Balland families, who used the castle as their summer residency and restored it. The castle was then bought back by the canton of Fribourg in 1938, made into a museum and opened to the public. Since 1993, a foundation ensures the conservation as well as the highlighting of the building and the art collection.

The castle is the home of three capes of the Order of the Golden Fleece. They were part of the war booty captured by the Swiss Confederates (which included troops from Gruyères) at the Battle of Morat against Charles the Bold, Duke of Burgundy in 1476. As Charles the Bold was celebrating the anniversary of his father's death, one of the capes is a black velvet sacerdotal vestment with Philip the Good's emblem sewn into it.

A collection of landscapes by 19th century artists Jean-Baptiste-Camille Corot, Barthélemy Menn and others are on display in the castle.