Monastery of San Nicolò l'Arena

Catania, Italy

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 architectonical integration of many styles through different centuries. Although the monastery was founded in the 16th century, it was modified by two natural disasters in the 17th century. In 1669 the 1669 Etna eruption surrounded the city of Catania, widening the coast for more than 1 km, and the monastery too. So the monastery was not destroyed by the lava but the area around was completely modified by a lava bench 12 meters high.

In 1693 the earthquake of Val di Noto destroyed the entire east coast of Sicily and Catania. The monastery was terribly damaged and the only floor that survived was the basement.

In 1702 the rebuilding started and lasted until 1866 (when the new Reign of Italy confiscated the monastery). The original monastery was rebuilt on the top of the latter, and they added a new cloister (the eastern cloister) and a new area (the large part designed by Giovanni Battista Vaccarini) on the top of the lava bench.

In 1977 the monastery was donated to the University of Catania, which restored the entire structure; in 1984 Giancarlo De Carlo started to design the entire restoration work.

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Details

Founded: 1558
Category: Religious sites in Italy

More Information

en.wikipedia.org

Rating

4.6/5 (based on Google user reviews)

User Reviews

Thaïs Maisonnet Hitz (6 months ago)
I highly recommend the guided visit! Call in advance to make sure there is a visit in English. This was worth the price. The guide explains a lot of valuable things about the place.
Chris Thomas Skogli (7 months ago)
Great place with an exciting history! Took a tour with an Italian speaking guide (there was no tour in English when I was there - remember to check this beforehand). I got a folder with the same information in English and strolled along. Great photo opportunities and lots of history to be told.
Michael R (8 months ago)
Amazing tour guide. Informative and funny.
Christopher Schmied (8 months ago)
The tour and the building is super interesting! A must see. Since it covers the history of the city very nicely!
Viktor Vítek (9 months ago)
Large monastery a very nice architecture, but we couldnt go inside
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