Historical Churches Walking Tour (Self Guided), Catania

Catania is a city of many churches that make its streets look so beautiful and historical. The churches in this city go back many centuries and represent the magnificent architecture of those ancient times. You will contemplate the rich decorations of gold, bronze and marble inside the impressive buildings. This self-guided tour will lead you through the most important religious sights of Catania.
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Historical Churches Walking Tour Map

Guide Name: Historical Churches Walking Tour
Guide Location: Italy » Catania (See other walking tours in Catania)
Guide Type: Self-guided Walking Tour (Sightseeing)
# of Attractions: 7
Tour Duration: 1 Hour(s)
Travel Distance: 1.6 Km or 1 Miles
Author: vickyc
Sight(s) Featured in This Guide:
  • Cathedral of Catania
  • The Church of the Abbey of Saint Agata
  • Chiesa San Benedetto (Church of St. Benedict)
  • Church of Saint Francis Borgia
  • Church of San Giuliano
  • Monastery of St. Nicholas Arena
  • Church of Santa Maria dell'Aiuto
Cathedral of Catania

1) Cathedral of Catania (must see)

Agatha was a pious virgin from a noble Catania family in 231 AD. The Roman prefect Quintianus made amorous moves on her. She rebuffed him. He martyred her. But things went bad for Quintianus. His horse kicked him in the river. He hasn't been seen since.

The Cathedral of Catania, also known as Cathedral of Saint Agatha, stands in the Cathedral Square (Piazza del Duomo). It is built in Italian Baroque style. The facade was fashioned in 1700 after a devastating earthquake in 1693. It has three levels with niches and columns of Corinthian granite.

The main entrance has a carved wooden door showing 32 plaques of the life of the Saint. The dome was created in 1802. The bell tower is a rebuilt. A parvis with a white stone balustrade harbors five statues of saints in Carrara marble.

The interior has a Latin Cross plan and three naves. The apse dates from the 12th century. In the north transept is the Chapel of the Holy Crucifix. The cathedral holds the tombs of Vincenzo Bellini, the great Italian composer, and King Frederick III, John of Randazzo and Constance of Aragon.

They say Saint Agatha protects Sicily against enemies, corrupt officials and even Mount Etna. Carved into the facade of the cathedral are the letters N.O.P.A.Q.V.I.E. which are the initial letters of each word in a sentence in Latin that says "Agatha will revenge any injustice perpetrated by those who offend her land".

A promise that has been kept for 1,800 years.
The Church of the Abbey of Saint Agata

2) The Church of the Abbey of Saint Agata

The Church of the Abbey of Saint Agata is situated near the Cathedral of Catania and is one of the major monuments of Baroque Catania. The abbey stands on the ruins of the ancient church of Saint Agatha. The facade is decorated with palms, lilies and crowns, which are symbols of St. Agatha. The building also features an impressive dome and statues of saints. The interior boasts beautiful religious paintings and impressive marble altars.
Chiesa San Benedetto (Church of St. Benedict)

3) Chiesa San Benedetto (Church of St. Benedict)

In 1334 the Church of Saint Benedict of Nursia was completed. In 1693, like most of Catania, the church was destroyed by the great earthquake. Only five nuns lived to tell the tale. In 1714 the church was rebuilt but the monastery was not finished until 1763. Rebuilding was mainly the the work of architect Giovanni Battista Vaccarini.

The facade has pilasters and several statues. The pediment of the tympanum has two feminine figures representing Fortitude and Temperence. Above the entrance is a statue of the Virgin Mary. The wooden main door has panels showing scenes from the life of Saint Benedict. The marble Angel Staircase has angels and railings of wrought iron.

The interior has one nave. It is lushly adorned with stucco and frescoes on the walls, vault and semi-dome. Artists include Matteo Desiderato and Giovanni Tuccari. Pictures of the life of Saint Benedict are everywhere in scenes both lively and cheerful. The main altar is of polychrome marble with panels of bronze.

The church is open Tuesday, Friday and Saturday from 10am to 5pm.
Church of Saint Francis Borgia

4) Church of Saint Francis Borgia

Church of Saint Francis Borgia or Chiesa di San Francesco Borgia is one of the spectacular churches in Catania; it stands next to the Church of St. Benedict. It was built in Baroque and Romanesque styles. There are many things to see, for example, magnificent stairs, Roman style façade and many white marble columns. There are paintings of famous Italian painters from the 18th century at the altars inside the church. The dome is decorated with frescoes that represent the Jesuit order. All frescoes of the church are of great historical and artistic value.
Church of San Giuliano

5) Church of San Giuliano

Church of San Giuliano is a must see in Catania as it is considered one of the city’s most beautiful churches. It was constructed in the 18th century and preserved valuable religious art created by famous Italian artists from that era. The church is oval in form. There is an impressive painted dome that illuminates the interior of the church, many different marble statues, a golden altar and other interesting things. Its curved facade and its simple lines give the church building an appearance of rare elegance.
Monastery of St. Nicholas Arena

6) Monastery of St. Nicholas Arena (must see)

Formerly a Benedictine establishment, the monastery is located at Dante Square in Catania. It is part of Val di Noto Works Heritage Site. There are no monks to be found on the premises but the humanities department of the University of Catania has found a home here.

The monastery was founded in 1558 and dedicated to San Nicolo "l'Arena." The monastery is in the center of town. It stands beside the Church of San Nicolo l'Arena. After the 1669 eruption of Mount Etna and the 1693 earthquake, the monastery was level with the ground.

Rebuilding commenced in 1702 and continued until the monastery was confiscated by the government in 1866. The current monastery rests on top of the original one (what was left of it). It has a new cloister and area designed by Giovanni Battista Vaccarini.

The original monastery used a square floor plan. A cloister in the center was called the "marble" cloister. It had a marble colonnade and a clover shaped fountain with refined renaissance decorations. In 1693 all this was destroyed.

The "Marble" cloister was rebuilt with late baroque decorations. The Eastern Cloister was a new addition. A new area on the North side was also added.

Giancarlo De Carlo, architect, has said, "...the old meanings have been substituted by a new one that allows the old architecture get a new structure and an important role for the contemporary world."
Church of Santa Maria dell'Aiuto

7) Church of Santa Maria dell'Aiuto

Church of Santa Maria dell'Aiuto is a beautiful church that faces the square with the same name. It boasts splendid artistic architectural features. This church was originally dedicated to St. Peter and later to Santa Maria, as there was a beautiful statue of Madonna on the street close to the church. The statue was placed in the church, which got its name from the statue. The church was destroyed by the great earthquake in 1693 and then rebuilt.

Walking Tours in Catania, Italy

Create Your Own Walk in Catania

Create Your Own Walk in Catania

Creating your own self-guided walk in Catania is easy and fun. Choose the city attractions that you want to see and a walk route map will be created just for you. You can even set your hotel as the start point of the walk.
Catania Introduction Walking Tour

Catania Introduction Walking Tour

The old Sicilian word "katane" is often translated as "harsh ground" or "sharp stones." Black lava from Mount Etna has swamped the area many times. Other disasters include earthquakes, invasions and wars.

The original village of Katane was occupied by Greek settlers in the eighth century BC. During the first Punic War, Catania became a Roman city. The Vandals...  view more

Tour Duration: 2 Hour(s)
Travel Distance: 3.8 Km or 2.4 Miles