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, designed by the polish architecte Stefano Ittar (1724–1790), is one of the most notable examples of late Baroque in Catania.
It has two orders, the first of which featuring six stone columns, surmounted by a balustrade. The second order has a large central window, with, at the sides, four large statues of St. Peter, St. Paul, St. Agatha and St. Apollonia. Over the second floor is a central element housing the bells.
The church is accessed through a large staircase on which, delimiting the parvise, is a wrought iron parapet.
The interior follows a common basilica plan, with a nave and two aisles divided by two pilasters, and three apses. The central apse is rather elongated to house the rectory.
The right aisle is home to a baptistery and three altars with canvasses of saints. At the end of the aisles is the Immaculate altar, preceded by a marble balaustrade, over which is a marble statue of the Madonna. In the apse of the nave is the high altar, with an icon of the Virgin with a Child, a copy of a Byzantine original in the sanctuary of Biancavilla. Behind the altar are an 18th-century wooden organ and a wooden choir.
The left aisle, in the apse area, houses the Holy Sacrament Chapel, with a marble altar. The vaults and the dome were frescoed in 1896 by Giuseppe Sciuti with scenes of the Life of Mary, Angels and Saints.References:
The famous Italian Medici family have given two queens to France: Catherine, the spouse of Henry II, and Marie, widow of Henry IV, who built the current Luxembourg palace. Maria di Medici had never been happy at the Louvre, still semi-medieval, where the fickle king, did not hesitate to receive his mistresses. The death of Henry IV, assassinated in 1610, left the way open for Marie's project. When she became regent, she was able to give special attention to the construction of an imposing modern residence that would be reminiscent of the Palazzo Pitti and the Boboli Gardens in Florence, where she grew up. The development of the 25-hectare park, which was to serve as a jewel-case for the palace, began immediately.
The architect, Salomon de Brosse, began the work in 1615. Only 16 years later was the palace was completed. Palace of Luxembourg affords a transition between the Renaissance and the Classical period.
In 1750, the Director of the King's Buildings installed in the wing the first public art-gallery in France, in which French and foreign canvases of the royal collections are shown. The Count of Provence and future Louis XVIII, who was living in Petit Luxembourg, had this gallery closed in 1780: leaving to emigrate, he fled from the palace in June 1791.
During the French Revolution the palace was first abandoned and then moved as a national prison. After that it was the seat of the French Directory, and in 1799, the home of the Sénat conservateur and the first residence of Napoleon Bonaparte, as First Consul of the French Republic. The old apartments of Maria di Medici were altered. The floor, which the 80 senators only occupied in 1804, was built in the middle of the present Conference Hall.
Beginning in 1835 the architect Alphonse de Gisors added a new garden wing parallel to the old corps de logis, replicating the look of the original 17th-century facade so precisely that it is difficult to distinguish at first glance the old from the new. The new senate chamber was located in what would have been the courtyard area in-between.
The new wing included a library (bibliothèque) with a cycle of paintings (1845–1847) by Eugène Delacroix. In the 1850s, at the request of Emperor Napoleon III, Gisors created the highly decorated Salle des Conférences, which influenced the nature of subsequent official interiors of the Second Empire, including those of the Palais Garnier.
During the German occupation of Paris (1940–1944), Hermann Göring took over the palace as the headquarters of the Luftwaffe in France, taking for himself a sumptuous suite of rooms to accommodate his visits to the French capital. Since 1958 the Luxembourg palace has been the seat of the French Senate of the Fifth Republic.