Ragusa Cathedral is dedicated to Saint John the Baptist. The present church dates from the early 18th century. It has been the seat of the Bishops of Ragusa since the establishment of the diocese in 1950.
A church of San Giovanni Battista stood before the 1693 Sicily earthquake in the west of the old town of Ragusa (Ragusa Ibla) under the walls of a medieval castle, where there now stands the church of St. Agnes.
Severely damaged by the earthquake, it was rebuilt at the center of the new upper town of Ragusa in the district of 'Patro'. On 15 April 1694 the foundation stone was laid. The church was finished after just four months, so that on 16 August the same year it was opened for worship in a solemn ceremony which was attended by all the elders of the County. The short time it took for the building indicates that it was a small church, inadequate to the needs of the new district.
In 1718, therefore, the construction on the site of a larger church began. Two master builders of Acireale, Giuseppe Recupero and Giovanni Arcidiacono, oversaw the project, and some architectural details of the church of San Giovanni are typical of the Baroque monuments of Acireale and Catania, such as the monumental Baroque main entrance with rusticated columns, which has significant similarities with the marble door of Acireale Cathedral.
The interior dates from the 19th and 20th centuries. In 1950 the church became the cathedral of the newly created Diocese of Ragusa.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.