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  • Day54

    Piazza del Duomo, Catania

    October 22, 2018 in Italy ⋅ ⛅ 17 °C

    Just around the corner from the Piazza Universita and Café Prestipino is the Piazza del Duomo, a UNESCO World Heritage Site that represents the historic centre of the city. Catania was founded by the Greeks in 729 BC and has a rich history of cultural heritage that can be found in its beautiful monuments and building, all of which were rebuilt after Catania was destroyed by the 1693 earthquake.

    The earthquake struck parts of Sicily, Italy and Malta on 11th January 1693 and was the most powerful in Italian recorded history. It destroyed at least 70 towns and cities, Catania being one of them, and killed about 60000 people. Almost two-thirds of the entire population of Catania were killed, including 7000 that died praying when the cathedral collapsed.

    The Piazza del Duomo was rebuilt in 1700 on the site of the older medieval piazza. Packed full of historic sites and buildings it is the home to the richly decorated Catania Cathedral, Cattedrale di Sant’Agata which is dedicated to the patron saint of the city. Shock, surprise, we did not go into this Cathedral as it appeared to be closed whenever we walked by it, and we were quite happy to admire it from the outside.

    On one side of the piazza is the Palazzo degli Elefanti which currently houses the city’s Town Hall and on the other is the Palazzo del Seminario dei Chierici, which today is home to the Diocesan Museum and municipal financial offices.

    In the centre of the piazza is the whimsical Fontana dell’Elefante statue and this was one of my favourite sites in Catania. It looked so out of place amongst the elaborate buildings surrounding the square. The Fountain of the Elephant was built in 1736 and is a smiling black lava elephant dating from Roman times. The ancient Egyptian obelisk on the elephant’s back, decorated with ancient hieroglyphics, was brought from Egypt to Italy. The elephant is now the symbol of the city.

    We crossed the square numerous times during our four days in Catania as the main street, Via Etna, always lead back to the square and every time I would want take more photos of the elephant. He was just that cute, not a word I would usually use to describe a historic fountain.

    After a wander around the square we continued on to our next location.
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