15 best sights of Catania – description and photos

15 sights of Italian Catania that are definitely worth seeing

Today we will talk about the small Sicilian city of Catania. The sights of this town will certainly attract the attention of lovers of picturesque ancient architecture and fans of antiquity. So let’s get started.

During the Renaissance period Catania was considered one of the most influential cities of the country and was widely known for its rich culture, art and history. The city has managed to preserve a large part of this rich heritage so that today everyone can admire its amazing buildings and museums, among which are the Basilica of Sant’Agata and the city’s museum building.

Furthermore this charming Sicilian town is opposite the legendary volcano Etna so you can always book an interesting tour or excursion in the surrounding area.

St. Agatha’s Cathedral

St. Agatha's Cathedral

St. Agatha’s Cathedral.

The cathedral of Catania is a majestic structure belonging to the Norman and Baroque style of architecture.

The cathedral stands in the center of the old city in Piazza del Duomo, in close proximity to many other attractions of Catania.

Piazza del Duomo was built in 1078 on the site of ancient Roman baths. The cathedral was rebuilt many times because of earthquakes that often took the region by surprise. The gray stone facade of the building is decorated with decorative statues of saints, and there is a massive dome on the east side of the structure.

Inside, you will find many interesting details: amazing frescoes on the main altar, decorative murals and paintings, as well as the tomb of the famous composer Bellini.

Address: Basilica Cattedrale Sant’Agata V. M., Via Vittorio Emanuele II, Catania, Italy.

Ursino Castle.

Ursino Castle

Castle Ursino. | Photo: Leandro Neumann Ciuffo / Flickr.

In Sicily you can find several interesting castles, which serve as reminders of the periods of conquest, when the island passed from one ruler to another.

The castle of Ursino was built in the XII century by Emperor Frederick II, then king of the kingdom of Sicily. It is still in remarkable condition – all its four towers and walls are intact and have no visible damage. Moreover, next to the castle you will find the remains of the old outer walls.

You can take picturesque selfies and take walks around the castle and afterwards you should definitely visit the city museum, which is located right inside the castle.

Address: Castello Ursino, Piazza Federico di Svevia, Catania, Italy.

Mount Etna

Mount Etna

Mount Etna.

Catania is actually in the shadow of the huge Mount Etna and this active stratovolcano is one of the main tourist attractions in Sicily.

Etna is 3329 meters high and is currently the highest active volcano in Europe. The last eruption occurred in 2015, when the volcano even spewed lava.

When you come to Catania, you can’t deny yourself the pleasure of climbing Mount Etna and seeing its gaping caldera with your own eyes.

Various tour operators offer a variety of day trips to the volcano: you can go there on foot, ride a bike or even rent a quad bike or jeep. The choice is yours.

On a clear day, the view from the top of Mount Etna over Sicily and its landscapes is incredible.

Address: Mount Etna, Adrano, Catania, Italy.

Benedictine Monastery

The Benedictine Monastery

Benedictine Monastery. | Photo: Tauralbus / Flickr.

The Benedictine Monastery is located in the center of Catania and is one of the most important and largest buildings of its kind in all of Europe. Not surprisingly, this stunning monument of architecture, built in 1558, is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

The complex is an interesting structure that combines many different styles: you won’t be hard to see the difference in design between the marble cloister, the Red Hall and the Basilica of San Nicola.

Try climbing to the top of the monastery’s dome, for from here you can enjoy a splendid panoramic view of the city. Be sure to pay attention to the facade of the building with its windows decorated with decorative stucco, and stroll through the cloisters to take pictures of their picturesque arches and fountains.

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Address: Monastero dei Benedettini di San Nicolò L’ Arena, Piazza Dante Alighieri, Catania, Italy.

Piazza del Duomo

Piazza del Duomo

Piazza del Duomo. | Photo: Richard / Flickr.

As the main square of Catania, Piazza del Duomo has a lot to offer tourists.

The square is located in the heart of the city, close to the port area, so it is a very popular meeting place for locals and many tourists. You can always ask locals what to see in Catania if you want to.

In the center of the square there is an impressive sized fountain “Elephant”, not far from it – the fountain “Amnano”, the Cathedral of Catania and the Elephant Palace. All of these are definitely worth your attention.

Also, here you can always relax and have a bite to eat in one of the many sidewalk cafes with a wonderful view of the square.

Piazza del Duomo is an excellent starting point for walking tours of Catania, as most of the key sights of the city can be easily reached on foot.

Address: Piazza Duomo, Piazza Duomo, Catania, Italy.

City Museum

City Museum

City Museum.

The Catania City Museum, located in the grounds of the Ursino Castle, has collected for its visitors many ancient relics and artifacts that tell the history of the city and the region.

The museum houses a vast collection of items that were originally housed in the Museo Biscari and were once considered one of the most valuable in Europe.

The collection features a wide variety of items, including Hellenistic and Roman sculptures, porcelain, ceramics, mosaics, ancient weapons and other finds from the island.

In addition, on the second floor of the museum you can see a collection of paintings of the XV-XVIII centuries.

Address: Museo Civico al Castello Ursino, Piazza Federico di Svevia, Catania, Catania, Italy.

San Nicolo L’Arena

San Nicolo L'Arena

San Nicolo L’Arena.| Photo: Allie_Caulfield / Flickr.

The church of San Nicolo L’Arena, located behind the monastery of St. Nicholas, was built on the site of a Greek acropolis – there are even several ancient columns on the front façade.

In fact, it is the largest church in Sicily and also one of the most intricate in terms of design – its façade was never finished, so the building looks rather strange and ominous. The ancient Greek columns in no way complement the church’s exterior, so its overall style is nothing short of “ridiculous. Inside, everything is much more harmonious: a lot of austere columns, arches and classical stucco.

Address: Chiesa di San Nicolò l’arena, Piazza Dante Alighieri, Catania, Italy.

Roman theater.

Roman theater

Roman theater.

There are several Roman theaters in Sicily. All of them are in superb condition, and the theater in Catania, built as early as the second century AD, is no exception.

The theater is conveniently located between the Benedictine monastery and the cathedral and is a must visit while exploring the historic center of the city.

A small annex, the odeon, adjoins the main building on the west side. The grandstands and several other sections of the theater are actually made of lava taken from Mount Etna. This structure is still in excellent condition.

Address: Teatro Romano, Via Vittorio Emanuele II, Catania, Italy.

Giuseppe Garibaldi’s Gateway Arc of Triumph

Giuseppe Garibaldi's Gateway

Giuseppe Garibaldi’s Triumphal Arch.

This monumental gate, which many call one of the most striking structures in Catania, was built in 1768 in honor of King Ferdinand IV and his wife Maria Carolina.

The arch, designed and built by Francesco Bataglia and Stefano Ittar, now bears the name of Giuseppe Garibaldi, the man who played a crucial role in the unification of Italy in the 19th century.

The gate is made of black and white stone, which form a characteristic striking contrast. At the top you can see stone and marble statues, proudly towering above the arch. This grandeur is crowned by a huge clock and a coat of arms with an eagle.

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Address: Porta Ferdinandea, Piazza Palestro, Catania, Italy.

Villa Bellini Park and Park of the Masters

Park “Villa Bellini”.

The Park “Villa Bellini” and the Park of Masters are located in the center of the city, west of Piazza Carlo Alberto. They are wonderful places to relax and be at one with nature.

In the eastern part of the park are the Bellini Gardens with picturesque fountains, flowerbeds and cozy gazebos set among many exotic trees and plants.

In the Park of the Masters you will have the opportunity to stroll along quiet walking paths surrounded by a picturesque forest.

Address: Giardino Bellini, Via Etnea, Catania, Italy.

Achi Castello

Acci Castello

Achi Castello. Photo: Alessandro Grussu / Flicr.

If you drive about 10 miles north of Catania along the coast, you will come to a charming village called Achi Castello. This village was formed around a castle built in 1076 during the Norman conquests of Sicily.

The castle is the main attraction of the place. It sits on a rock near the village and faces the sea.

The castle is an iconic place for this part of Sicily. You can freely explore its grounds and climb to the top of the castle walls from where you have a fantastic view of the sea and surroundings.

Address: Aci Castello, Catania, Italy.

Botanical Garden.

Botanical Garden

Botanical Garden. | Photo: Life Pilgrim / Flickr.

The Botanical Garden of Catania is located on the university campus in close proximity to Bellini Park in the center of the old town.

If you are looking for a place where you can take a quiet walk, expand your knowledge of botany and just admire nature, this is definitely the place for you! The botanical garden has a fantastic collection of trees, shrubs, and exotic plant species from around the world.

The gardens are well organized, so it is a pleasure to walk around at any time of the day or night.

Address: Orto Botanico di Catania, Via Etnea, Catania, Italy.

San Giovanni Li Couti

San Giovanni Li Couti

San Giovanni Li Couti.

This beach is a true natural phenomenon, because its shore is strewn with volcanic sand and ash. San Giovanni Li Couti is located on the eastern coast of Sicily, not far from Via Zoccolanti. It’s a great place to relax and take a break from the hustle and bustle of the city.

At the north end of the beach there is a small harbor with a lot of old wooden fishing boats, which still serve the locals faithfully. Behind the harbor you can find several cozy bars and restaurants.

On the beach there are sections with wooden decking with sun loungers so you can relax, breathe the sea air and enjoy the beauty of the volcanic beach.

Address: Via San Giovanni Li Cuti, Catania, Catania, Italy.

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Beach Lido Azzurro

Lido Azzurro Beach

Beach Lido Azzurro.

Lido Azzurro is the longest beach in Catania. This is a great spot for those who want to bask in the sun and have fun.

It is a fantastic beach about 15 minutes south of Catania, close to the port and the harbor.

A beautiful golden spit of soft sand stretches for many kilometers ahead, and the warm Mediterranean Sea gently hugs the gentle shore.

There are plenty of sun loungers and umbrellas on the beach, so you can always lie down, have a cocktail and appreciate the glorious weather of this region.

There is also a separate children’s play area with slides and descents, as well as several beach bars and stores where you can have a little snack or buy popular products.

Address: Lido Azzurro, Litoranea Kennedy, Catania, Italy.

Via dei Crociferi

Via dei Crociferi

Via dei Crociferi.

This magnificent street stretches between the Roman theater and the Park “Villa Bellini” and is one of the main arteries of the city.

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In addition to many wonderful historic buildings, the Via dei Crociferi has four pretty churches – the Church of St. Francesco Borgia, the Church of San Benedetto, the Church of St. Francis of Assisi and the Church of San Giuliano.

Each building has its own unique design and architectural “zest”. In addition, you can also see the arch of San Benedetto and the old Jesuit monastery. It makes sense to combine a visit to this street with a trip to the Roman theater.

20 interesting sights Catania

Sightseeing in Caiana

Tourists when visiting Catania are confused: almost all the buildings in the city are made in dark color. The reason for this is that in the 17th century this Italian city has suffered significant damage from the earthquake and in the next century the historic center was rebuilt in the then current Baroque style. It was decided to build new structures with lava stone in a darker shade. This is how the unique Catania style – “black baroque” appeared. In this article I will tell you what sights to see and where to go in one day.

What sights to see in Catania in one and two days

When a day is available, you can devote your vacation time to two sights that are located at a considerable distance from each other. For example, you can visit the volcano Etna and the castle Ursino. The way will take enough time, but if you get the bus or car, it is possible to fully enjoy the beauty of the village.

One of the most memorable will be an excursion to volcano Etna.

One of the most memorable will be the excursion to the volcano Etna

The two days you have to spare allow you to experience the culture and life more fully. For example, after visiting the Church of St. Nicholas, you can go to the Botanical Gardens, then walk through the important streets of the city and at the end of the vacation you can buy the freshest fish in the market. If you have time, we recommend a trip to nearby Palermo or Syracuse.

Beautiful places for photo shoots

Catania is a colorful and vibrant locality, which is rich in beautiful places that attract tourists. You can get beautiful photos in Sicily by going to the beach or to the botanical garden, which is full of beautiful plants. The streets of the city are filled with ancient buildings that can create a mysterious and mesmerizing atmosphere in photos.

Fish Market

One of the most colorful places in the city that allows you to fully immerse yourself in its atmosphere. Every day on weekdays all guests can buy fresh fish of different species: you can find huge swordfish, lobsters with large claws, gourmet sea urchins, mussels and shrimp. The extravagance of the merchants, combined with their colourful accent and excessive gesticulation, adds to the diversity of the stalls.

Allied Landing Museum in Sicily

The exhibits of the museum reflect the events that took place during World War II. In 1943, the anti-Hitler coalition troops arrived on the island and managed to liberate the country from Mussolini’s fascist regime. The museum exhibit consists of photographs, soldiers’ uniforms and weapons, and documents describing how the liberation operation took place.

Etneland

A large and multifunctional amusement park with a variety of attractions located at the foot of a volcano. People of all ages can find something to do here. The park structure consists of a water park with different types of slides, a dinosaur park with huge models of ancient creatures, and a special area where colorful laser shows are arranged. Near the park are numerous stores and recreation areas.

Massimo Bellini Theater

It was founded in the early 19th century. It is named after the famous composer of Italy. It is considered a striking example of Sicilian Baroque architecture. Among the decorations of the facade are a variety of stucco details and relief images. In front of the main entrance is a graceful arcade that turns into a balcony. On the upper level of the facade are statues representing mythical heroes. In the central arch of the hall is a statue of the composer.

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Benedictine Abbey

Object of architectural heritage of the 12th century. At the beginning of its history it was a hospice founded by the Benedictines for the sick monks of the surrounding monasteries. The complex consisted of a church, a crypt, living quarters and outbuildings. By the early 16th century the monastery and the surrounding buildings had fallen into disrepair and were nearly destroyed by repeated eruptions and raids. After the relocation of the monastery, the entire complex fell into disrepair until the early 2000s.

Collegiate Basilica

Dedicated to the Madonna of Mercy. It is located in the historic center of the city. On the site of the future basilica was a small chapel. Its role in the spiritual life of the town increased over time and it became a pilgrimage site for the kings of Aragon. The front façade of the basilica is one of the clearest examples of Sicilian Baroque, combining convex and concave forms. The appearance of the basilica is a harmonious and distinctive composition.

Via Crociferi

A monumental road that appeared in the 18th century. It starts from Piazza San Francesco of Assisi and extends to the Arch of St. Benedict. It is the most important road of the city and the most ancient Catholic churches. It was named after the church of the same name located on it. After the 17th century earthquake it was considered the jewel of the city. Most of the buildings on it are in the unique Sicilian Baroque style.

Via Etnea

The main street of the historic city center. Its length is more than three kilometers. For the first time the street is mentioned in the sources of the late 17th century. As a result of a major earthquake many buildings were destroyed and many people died. It was proposed to restore all the streets of the city running perpendicularly. One of them ran from the Cathedral to the volcano Etna. It was the Via Etnea.

Church of St. Benedetto

Built in the 18th century. It is famous for the front staircase of the Angels, a marble staircase decorated with statues of angels. The church is part of the monastic complex. The interior of the church is decorated with frescoes created by recognized masters. The main value is the marble altar, which is decorated with stones and bronze. This place is in demand among the city’s guests and connoisseurs of architecture.

Church of St. Nicholas

The church of St. Nicholas is located in the historic center of the city. It was founded by monks in the 12th century. The church housed a shelter for the sick and a chapel. The monastery became an important spiritual center because of the Holy Nail, a relic revered by the Benedictines. Behind the church is the monastery of St. Nicholas, which is part of the university. It contains the most valuable library of the country with exclusive books, manuscripts and engravings.

Roman amphitheater

It appeared in the second century in the northern part of Catania. The grandstands of the amphitheatre could accommodate more than 10,000 spectators. Over time, the amphitheater lost its importance and was used as a quarry. After the earthquake at the end of the 17th century, the amphitheater was virtually destroyed. Excavations carried out in the 18th century revealed parts of the amphitheater that remained. Since the beginning of the 20th century, the place has been open to tourists.

Roman Theater

An important place in the historic center of the city. According to the documents found, it can be judged that this theater originated before Christ and was created by the Greeks. After the arrival of the Romans the theater was rebuilt. Already since the 6th century the theater began to decline. During the Middle Ages it became a source of building materials: large blocks and decorative parts were used in the construction of temples.

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Palazzo Biscari

A palace built for the Dukes of Biscari. Construction began at the end of the 17th century and lasted for 100 years. Once inside you can go through the spacious portal which overlooks the courtyard. The main hall is decorated in rococo style, with mirrors, moldings, and frescoes. Today the palace houses a museum, whose exhibits included the collection that Ignazio formed and gave to another museum.

San Giovanni Li Couti

A rocky beach formed from the remains of petrified lava. Because of the rocks to enter the water is problematic. During times when the water level is maximal, for the convenience of tourists is set down into the water. Infrastructure of the beach is poorly developed: cafes and hotels are located far from it. However, the lack is compensated by the picturesque nature and colorful scenery.

Park “Villa Bellini

It is named after the famous composer. Founded in the 18th century. It extends on two symmetrical hills, divided by a plain. The hills are linked by numerous paths for pedestrians, sculptures, ponds, stairs and fountains. The park space is decorated with a flower clock, transplanted every day and showing the date.

Botanical Garden

Located in the city center. Is managed by the Botanical Department of the University of Catania. The territory of the garden consists of two parts – the Main Garden, consisting of exotic plants of the world and the Garden, which contains plants of local flora. During the garden’s existence, the collection has been enlarged many times. It includes succulents, palms and endemic species – Sicilian poplars, oaks, heather and conifers.

Ursino Castle

Built in the 13th century. The majestic structure, reinforced with powerful towers, represented a strong royal power and guarded the eastern Sicilian coast. The castle survived the many destructions. Today the building is occupied by the City Museum, whose exhibition consists of archaeological artifacts from the Greek and Roman eras and a collection of Sicilian paintings. During its history, the castle has housed the home of the Aragonese kings and the prison.

St. Agatha’s Cathedral

St. Agatha is considered the protector of the city. Her remains are kept in the cathedral. Included among the oldest churches in the city. The original building of the cathedral was erected in the 11th century. Since then, the church has been restored and rebuilt many times, but some primary elements have survived. For example, the transept, towers and apses, built from huge blocks of lava, are considered to be surviving traces of the Norman church. The cathedral got its modern appearance in the 18th century.

Cathedral Square

Famous for its striking architectural objects, among which are the Porta Uzzeda Gate, the Catania Cathedral, and the City Hall. Most of them were created by Giovanni Vaccarini. The central place of the square is occupied by the Elephant Fountain. On the figure of the elephant is an obelisk. Initially these statues were in different parts of the city, but after a major earthquake it was decided to combine them and thus one of the main symbols of the city was formed.

Volcano Etna

The largest active volcano in Europe. There are several craters on its surface which are often activated. On most of the lower slopes of the mountain, as the residents call the volcano, there are vineyards and gardens. Some of the plants growing around the volcano are unique and are not found anywhere else. A cableway operates year-round to climb the southern slope of the volcano. The cable car on the north side operates only in winter.

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