The church of Santa Chiara is located in Corso Vittorio Emanuele, next to the former Benedictine monastery of the Holy Crucifix.The church was designed by Rosario Gagliardi around 1730, it was completed in 1758 and later annexed to the monastery belonged the Benedictine nuns (which is now a museum).
It represents an important example of baroque architecture.The façade of the church was originally located in Corso Vittorio Emanuele. It had a portal surmounted by a broken vault, while at the centre there was a window with a large circular gable decorated with battlements. In the 19th century, as a result of previous excavation works, the church’s entrance turned to be above the street level, which practically obstructed the access to the worship place. The same thing happened to the portal of the monastery (now walled but easily detectable by lavish baroque battlements and pyramidal pinnacles which are still visible).The current façade, located in via Capponi, has the main entrance located on a small staircase.
Among the many artworks inside the church, there is an altarpiece depicting Santa Chiara, San Benedetto and Santa Scolastica, made by Salvatore Lo Forte in 1854 and a 16th century marble-made sculpture of the Virgin and the Child, attributed to Antonello Gagin.References:
Dating from the 15th century, Kisimul is the only significant surviving medieval castle in the Outer Hebrides. It was the residence of the chief of the Macneils of Barra, who claimed descent from the legendary Niall of the Nine Hostages. Tradition tells of the Macneils settling in Barra in the 11th century, but it was only in 1427 that Gilleonan Macneil comes on record as the first lord. He probably built the castle that dominates the rocky islet, and in its shadow a crew house for his personal galley and crew. The sea coursed through Macneil veins, and a descendant, Ruari ‘the Turbulent’, was arrested for piracy of an English ship during King James VI’s reign in the later 16th century.
Heavy debts eventually forced the Macneil chiefs to sell Barra in 1838. However, a descendant, Robert Lister Macneil, the 45th Chief, repurchased the estate in 1937, and set about restoring his ancestral seat. It passed into Historic Scotland’s care in 2000.
The castle dates essentially from the 15th century. It takes the form of a three-storey tower house. This formed the residence of the clan chief. An associated curtain wall fringed the small rock on which the castle stood, and enclosed a small courtyard in which there are ancillary buildings. These comprised a feasting hall, a chapel, a tanist’s house and a watchman’s house. Most were restored in the 20th century, the tanist’s house serving as the family home of the Macneils. A well near the postern gate is fed with fresh water from an underground seam. Outside the curtain wall, beside the original landing-place, are the foundations of the crew house, where the sailors manning their chief’s galley had their quarters.