Top Historic Sights in Messina, Italy

Explore the historic highlights of Messina

Messina Cathedral

Messina Cathedral dates back to the 12th century, but it was thoroughly restored between 1919-1920 due to the earthquake that had caused serious damage in 1908. During the Second World War when the Allied dropped bombs on the city, a fire destroyed part of the cathedral which was rebuilt in 1943. The apsidal area has its original Norman structure and the three outstandingly decorated portals of the façade built followin ...
Founded: 1197 | Location: Messina, Italy

Church of the Santissima Annunziata dei Catalani

The Church of the Santissima Annunziata dei Catalani is an example of Norman architecture on Sicily. It dates from the 12th century, when Sicily was under Norman rule. Built on top of the ruins of an older temple dedicated to Neptune, the church is an example of Sicilian Norman architecture with its mix of different cultural elements. The church displays influences from Arab and Byzantine architecture and also conta ...
Founded: 12th century | Location: Messina, Italy

Sacrario di Cristo Re

Sacrario di Cristo Re overlooks Messina from a hill that once was the site of a Roman acropolis and later a Norman castle dedicated to Richard the Lionheart. The neo-baroque structure was built in 1937 as a memorial to WWI casualties. It contains the bodies of about 1,000 soldiers. Next to the church is this 130 ton bronze bell. It was cast from melted down enemy cannons and it sits on a tower from the ruins of the Roccag ...
Founded: 1937 | Location: Messina, Italy

Palazzo del Monte di Pietà

Palazzo del Monte di Pietà was built in 1616 for the Arciconfraternita degli Azzurri. The building was modified in 1741 with the addition of a first floor, a bell tower and a staircase. These were built to designs of the architect Antonino Basile. A fountain decorated with a statue of Abundance was built in the middle of the staircase. The structure was damaged during the earthquake of 1783 and that of 1908. The buildin ...
Founded: 1616 | Location: Messina, Italy

Santa Maria Alemanna Church

Santa Maria Alemanna Church is a small church founded in 1220 by Frederick II. It was a property of Teutonic Knights until 1485. It has been restored after the damages caused by earthquakes in 1783 and 1908.
Founded: 1220 | Location: Messina, Italy

Forte del Santissimo Salvatore

The peninsula of San Raineri, on which Forte del Santissimo Salvatore was eventually built, had been inhabited since antiquity, and Greek pottery dating back to the 8th century BC was found at the site. The fort got its name from a monastery and church dedicated to the Holy Saviour, which were built on the peninsula in the Middle Ages. In around 1081, a tower dedicated to Saint Anne was built on the peninsula, and it saw ...
Founded: 1546 | Location: Messina, Italy

Forte Gonzaga

In the 1540s, the fortifications of Messina were being modernized due to fears of the expanding Ottoman Empire. Forte Gonzaga was built on the hill of Montepiselli, outside the city walls. It was able to defend the mountainous landward approach to the city, and it also overlooked the Strait of Messina. The fort was designed by Antonio Ferramolino, a military engineer from Bergamo. He was assisted by Francesco Maurolico, a ...
Founded: 1545 | Location: Messina, Italy

Santa Maria della Valle Church

The church of Santa Maria della Valle, also called Santa Maria della Scala, is known under the name of Badiazza, and was probably built during the 11th century in the Badiazza dried up riverbed of a stream that gives its name to the church. The church, that lies at the feet of the San Rizzo mountains, was recently restored and given back to the citizens and tourists who love to discover historic beauties not too far from ...
Founded: 11th century | Location: Messina, Italy

Featured Historic Landmarks, Sites & Buildings

Historic Site of the week

Caerleon Roman Amphitheatre

Built around AD 90 to entertain the legionaries stationed at the fort of Caerleon (Isca), the impressive amphitheatre was the Roman equivalent of today’s multiplex cinema. Wooden benches provided seating for up to 6,000 spectators, who would gather to watch bloodthirsty displays featuring gladiatorial combat and exotic wild animals.

Long after the Romans left, the amphitheatre took on a new life in Arthurian legend. Geoffrey of Monmouth, the somewhat imaginative 12th-century scholar, wrote in his History of the Kings of Britain that Arthur was crowned in Caerleon and that the ruined amphitheatre was actually the remains of King Arthur’s Round Table.

Today it is the most complete Roman amphitheatre in Britain.