Norman Cathedral of Sant’Agata

Main Church of Catania

The Cathedral of Sant’Agata is known for the incredible colours due to the mix of stone and black lava that, especially at night, creates a lunar atmosphere.

Originally built in 1078-1093, the Norman Cathedral is dedicated to Sant’Agata the patron saint of Catania. This majestic masterpiece has been destroyed several times due to lots of earthquakes and Volcano Etna’s eruptions that have hit the city. Today it is possible to appreciate the Baroque facade made by Giovanni Battista Vaccarini, who redesigned it after a violent earthquake in 1693. The Cathedral is known for the incredible colours due to the mix of stone and black lava that, especially at night, creates a lunar atmosphere. Inside the cathedral, two columns of the Roman amphitheatre shield the relics of the city’s Patron Saint, and it is possible to see several works of art such as the tomb of composer Vincenzo Bellini and the graves of the Aragonese Kings.

Every year from the 3rd to 5th of February, Catania plays hosts to tens of thousands of people who come to attend the Festival of Saint Agata. During this famous celebration, many locals wear the traditional dress called sacco and take part in the procession. After the religious celebrations, locals prepare delicious sweets such as the popolar Calia and Simenza, made of dried chickpeas, yellow melon seeds and peanuts, and the Cassateddi and aliveti, typical desserts that represent parts of Saint Agata’s tale.
Due to these fascinating rituals in what is already a World Heritage Site, the Celebration of St. Agata was declared by UNESCO as an ethno-anthropological Heritage of Humanity.

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