Palazzo Biscari

Catania, Italy

Palazzo Biscari was built by will of the Paternò Castello family, the princes of Biscari, starting from the late 17th century, lasting for much of the following century, after the devastations of the 1693 earthquake. The new palace was built directly against the city walls (Charles V's walls), which had partially withstood the earthquake.

The oldest section was built under Ignazio, third prince of Biscari, who entrusted the project to architect Alonzo Di Benedetto. Ignazio's son, Vincenzo, commissioned the decoration of the seven large windows facing the seaside, by the Messinese sculptor Antonino Amato. Later the palace was modified under the fourth Prince, Ignazio Paternò Castello, who had it enlarged eastwards under design by Giuseppe Palazzotto and, later, by Francesco Battaglia. The building was finished in 1763 and inaugurated with big celebrations.

The palace is accessed through a large portal facing via Museo Biscari, leading to the inner courtyard, which features a large double staircase. In the interior is the 'Feasts Hall', in Roccoco style, with a complex decoration of mirrors, stuccoes and frescos painted by Matteo Desiderato and Sebastiano Lo Monaco. The small dome, destined to the orchestra, has a fresco depicting the glories of the Paternò Castello di Biscari family. It is accessed through a staircase decorated in stucco within the gallery facing the sea.

Among the other rooms are the Fief Room, featuring large canvasses of the Biscari feudataries, the Princess Apartments (built by Ignazio V of Biscari for his wife, with pavements of ancient Roman marbles), the Birds Gallery and the Don Quixote Room. There is also a museum, once housing the collection of Ignazio V, most of the material of which is now in the Castello Ursino in Catania.

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Founded: 1763
Category: Palaces, manors and town halls in Italy

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