The complex of Sant'Anna, including the church and a convent, was built in a zone formerly occupied by an unhealthy inlet, circumscribed by cliffs and filled by alluvial deposits of the Kemonia, one of the rivers of the ancient and medieval Palermo. In the period of the Sicilian Vespers the area housed the residence of Joanne De Saint Remy, collaborator of Charles of Anjou.
In the 16th century a chapel dedicated to Our Lady Of Pity is recorded in the so-called “Contrada della Misericordia”. In this chapel Tommaso de Vigilia painted a fresco of the Pietà. Over time the popular devotion to this icon increased. In 1596 a structure located near the chapel and used as granary was converted into a place of worship. The fresco was hung in this new temple. In 1597 the convent was built.
Since the church proved to be small for the liturgical needs, the authorities of Palermo decided to enlarge the building thanks to the help of noble families and ordinary believers. The architectural project was made by the senatorial architect Mariano Smiriglio. On 26 October 1606 the groundbreaking was launched. The church was completed in 1632 and consecrated on 13 November 1639 by the bishop of Agrigento Francesco Traina. The temple was dedicated to Saint Anne, mother of Mary, becoming known as Sant'Anna la Misericordia.
In 1726 the earthquake of Terrasini caused the façade collapse. The current façade was designed by Giovanni Biagio Amico in accordance with the conventions of the Roman Baroque. Over the centuries the church was damaged on several occasions by earthquakes.
After the unification of Italy the church and the convent were confiscated by the state. For several years the complex was used as granary. In 1925 the church and a portion of the convent returned into the possession of the friars.
Today the convent houses a museum of modern art, the Galleria d'Arte Moderna Sant'Anna.References:
Angelokastro is a Byzantine castle on the island of Corfu. It is located at the top of the highest peak of the island"s shoreline in the northwest coast near Palaiokastritsa and built on particularly precipitous and rocky terrain. It stands 305 m on a steep cliff above the sea and surveys the City of Corfu and the mountains of mainland Greece to the southeast and a wide area of Corfu toward the northeast and northwest.
Angelokastro is one of the most important fortified complexes of Corfu. It was an acropolis which surveyed the region all the way to the southern Adriatic and presented a formidable strategic vantage point to the occupant of the castle.
Angelokastro formed a defensive triangle with the castles of Gardiki and Kassiopi, which covered Corfu"s defences to the south, northwest and northeast.
The castle never fell, despite frequent sieges and attempts at conquering it through the centuries, and played a decisive role in defending the island against pirate incursions and during three sieges of Corfu by the Ottomans, significantly contributing to their defeat.
During invasions it helped shelter the local peasant population. The villagers also fought against the invaders playing an active role in the defence of the castle.
The exact period of the building of the castle is not known, but it has often been attributed to the reigns of Michael I Komnenos and his son Michael II Komnenos. The first documentary evidence for the fortress dates to 1272, when Giordano di San Felice took possession of it for Charles of Anjou, who had seized Corfu from Manfred, King of Sicily in 1267.
From 1387 to the end of the 16th century, Angelokastro was the official capital of Corfu and the seat of the Provveditore Generale del Levante, governor of the Ionian islands and commander of the Venetian fleet, which was stationed in Corfu.
The governor of the castle (the castellan) was normally appointed by the City council of Corfu and was chosen amongst the noblemen of the island.
Angelokastro is considered one of the most imposing architectural remains in the Ionian Islands.