The area around Palazzolo Acreide has been inhabited since ancient times. The old city was probably destroyed by the Arabs, in the first half of the 9th century. The new city was built around a Norman castle, which no longer exists. An earthquake in 1693 destroyed almost the entire city, which was slowly rebuilt in the following centuries.
Thanks to the many fascinating buildings in Baroque style, Palazzolo Acreide has been incorporated in the UNESCO World Heritage site of Late Baroque Towns of the Val di Noto since 2002.
The city has many late Baroque style churches, inculding The Chiesa Madre ('Mother Church'). The first document attesting its existence dates from 1215, when the church was dedicated to St. Nicholas. It was largely rebuilt and redecorated after the earthquake of 1693, with a Neo-classicist façade. The interior is on the Latin cross plan, with a nave and two aisles decorated with precious polychrome marbles.References:
The Church of St Donatus name refers to Donatus of Zadar, who began construction on this church in the 9th century and ended it on the northeastern part of the Roman forum. It is the largest Pre-Romanesque building in Croatia.
The beginning of the building of the church was placed to the second half of the 8th century, and it is supposed to have been completed in the 9th century. The Zadar bishop and diplomat Donat (8th and 9th centuries) is credited with the building of the church. He led the representations of the Dalmatian cities to Constantinople and Charles the Great, which is why this church bears slight resemblance to Charlemagne"s court chapels, especially the one in Aachen, and also to the Basilica of San Vitale in Ravenna. It belongs to the Pre-Romanesque architectural period.
The circular church, formerly domed, is 27 m high and is characterised by simplicity and technical primitivism.