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Duomo - Cathedral, Messina: 16 reviews and 58 photos


The cathedral
The Cathedral of Messina is probably the most important monument in the city, in spite of many rehandlings. Its foundation, rather uncertain, took place a little before the Arab invasion, if it's true that the Arabs used it as a ' poor stable'. Because of that Arab use, the Cathedral was consecrated again in 1192, in front of Archbishop Berzio, the Emperor Henry VI ( son of Barbarossa) and his wife Constance d'Hauteville. The Cathedral's history is characterized by many misadventures: first of all, the destruction of the woody roof ( executed by Arab hands), caused by a fire during the funerals of Conrad IV ( son of Frederick II Hohenstaufen) in 1254. From the XIV century, many modifications took place; in some respect, they enriched the church, but, at the same time, changed its Norman appearance. Later, it was damaged by 1638 and 1783's earthquakes, and it lost most of the façade; but it was entirely destroyed by the earthquake of December 28, 1908. Only the apse remained, but, thanks to the earthquake, many Norman elements were recovered. The reconstruction, in the second decade of this century, gave back the original appearance, recovering most of mosaics and works of art. But World War II caused probably the worst destruction of the Cathedral: on June 13, 1943, some bombs fell on it and a terrible fire destroyed most of the interior.
The present building keeps in the outer part important elements, going from the XIV to the XVII centuries. Particularly important is the façade, with the magnificent portal, in Gothic style with fine windows of the XV century (the portal on the right side is attributed to Polidoro da Caravaggio). _ ________________________________ In the interior, divided into three aisles by a double line of columns with pointed arches, one can admire the mosaics ( XIV century and remakings), some tomb-stones ( among them that of Guidotto de Tabiatis, Archbishop of Messina in the XIV century) and some statues of Saints, particularly St. John the Baptist, work of Antonello Gagini, of 1525.

- The Bell-tower has a troubled history too. Built during the Norman period, it was destroyed by 1783's earthquake. It was then rebuilt, but was destroyed again in 1863 by the Municipality and replaced with two little towers leant to external apses, afterwards destroyed by 1908's earthquake. Reconstruction by architect F. Valenti followed the lines of the Norman bell-tower. It is 60 metres ( 54 yards ) high, with a base of about 10 metres ( 9 yards ) by side. It represents one of the greatest attractions of the city, with its particular clock mechanism, that not only strikes the hours, but also sets statues and mechanical gearings in motion: they recall astronomical, religious and city episodes. It is a work of Brothers Ungerer, pupils of Giovan Battista Schwilgué ( author of the wonderful clock of Notre-dame Cathedral in Strasbourg). Some say that the clock of the Cathedral of Messina is the greatest in the world.

Address: Piazza del Duomo, Messina
Phone: +39 090675175
Website: http://www.diocesimessina.it/duomo/index.htm

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  • Updated Aug 24, 2002
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