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

Michael R (17 days ago)
Amazing tour guide. Informative and funny.
Christopher Schmied (18 days ago)
The tour and the building is super interesting! A must see. Since it covers the history of the city very nicely!
Viktor Vítek (50 days ago)
Large monastery a very nice architecture, but we couldnt go inside
Dimi Rogatchev (3 months ago)
Step in and touch the history...This ancient monastery which has survived and earthquake, then rebuilt; reached by the lava of Etna and survived; taken by the state and turned into gym, school, barracks, university etc. And still standing proud in Catania! Don't hesitate and take a guided tour - it is €8 per person, takes around 70 minutes and you would be able to understand more behind each hall and the story behind it. From the different garden and their meaning up to the underground and the kitchen area! Worth seeing it!
Daniel Bar (3 months ago)
So look, this is not a typical monastery, but rather a palace built for the local Church elite, that in modern times transformed into a University. So expect rich gardens, big halls, a dark library in the basement, and overstressed students studying for an exam. A ~1.5 hour tour is highly recommended (even in Italian), as the nice guide will take you to places you can’t otherwise enter. A must see if you can spare the time.
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