The 14 best sights of Ragusa – description and photos

Ragusa – “island on the island” (Sicily)

The photo shows an ancient bridge built in the early 19th century, 40 meters high and 120 meters long.

-In the last report we stopped at the high bridge that connects the modern and ancient Ragusa- one of the main streets, Via Roma (pictured), passes over the same bridge. It is pedestrian in this part.

-It was empty (it was around 3 pm and it was siesta time, all the stores were closed).

-Two blocks away, the Ragusa Cathedral was visible. Here I specifically took down the sign with the temperature – as you can see in the middle of summer at 15 o’clock – only 27 degrees – very comfortable temperature for travel! So again, don’t be afraid of summer Italy.

-This is the second Cathedral of St. John the Baptist (the first one is in Ragusa Ibla)

Here is one photo of this cathedral from the Internet

-The Cathedral of St. John the Baptist (Cattedrale S. Giovanni Battista) was built between 1706 and 1778 by Mario Spata and Rosario Boscarino. It is one of the largest churches in Sicily. On the right side of the cathedral is a cathedral garden with a fountain-here I took a little break and then entered the cathedral, which doesn’t close at lunchtime.

-There’s been a long-standing conflict in Ragusa between two parishes, one called St. George and the other St. John the Baptist. Mention of the church of St. John the Baptist goes back to 1308. A terrible earthquake in 1693 destroyed the cathedral and it took almost a hundred years to rebuild, made in the Sicilian Baroque style.

-The base of the cathedral is a Latin cross. The altar part has an apse.

There are three aisles in the cathedral. The central one will take us to the main altar.

The bottom photo shows the main altar of the cathedral.

Inside the church is decorated with stucco and gilding in rococo style (1776-1778)-a style that replaced the baroque in the mid-18th century

In the numerous altars and chapels of the temple, you can see beautiful sculptures and paintings.

The organ from the 18th century is in the bottom photo.

-The Cathedral’s façade is divided into five parts by large columns on a high base and is decorated with carved decorations and sculptures. A 50 m bell tower is erected above the left part of the facade. A similar one should have been on the right side too, but it was never built, there was not enough money.

-A small square in front of the cathedral

-On the right side of the cathedral is a monument to the victims of World War I.

-We’ll walk a bit more through the streets around the cathedral and go back to Via Roma

-Via Roma in just a few blocks ends with an observation deck where you can see the whole area from the top.

-I do not know – many will ask the question – but why – I’ll answer simply – I like it to see the hinterland of Sicily. – I can not like Maxim Starostin mastering – his plan would be about this – half a day at Etna – and half a day in Syracuse – and check the box – I saw Sicily! But we’ll go the other way- we’ll dive into Sicily.

-We go back along Via Roma and head towards Ragusa Ibla.

-We see some interesting sculptures in the city.

-In the pictures you can see the dome of its bell tower, which is said to have been built at the beginning of the 13th century by Cistercian monks.

-The temple stands at the top of a staircase (340 steps) connecting the upper and lower parts of the city. This church survived the 1693 earthquake. Of the old church, the Gothic portal and Renaissance chapel (1532) have been preserved, and above this chapel rises the bell tower

-The whole lower part of the city -Ragusa Ibla can be seen as if on the palm of your hand.

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-It’s a stone staircase or a motorway that leads down…

-Houses are built on top of the cliffs.

Walking down to the church of Santa Maria della Scala itself, pictured here.

The church despite withstanding the 1693 earthquake was rebuilt and expanded in the 18th century.

There are three aisles in the church now, the central one leads to the Baroque central altar of the 18th century.

The original portico (13th century), which anticipated the entrance to the Gothic church, is in the left aisle of the cathedral-view.

And here is the chapel, preserved from Renaissance times (early 16th century) – on the photo

In the cathedral you can see medieval frescoes

Medieval frescoes and ancient foundations of a Gothic cathedral.

-The first thing you see at the entrance of Ragusa Iblù is the Church of the Souls in Purgatory (Chiesa della Santissime Anime del Purgatorio) in Piazza della Repubblica – on the photo.

-The church was built in the first half of the 17th century and survived the earthquake. A high staircase leads to the main facade.

There are three naves inside the cathedral with the central nave leading to the high altar.

Photo shows the high altar of the church

The cathedral is in the Sicilian Baroque style with many splendid elements and decorations

Pictures and sculptures from the 18th century.

-And this composition probably the souls asking to let them into the Paradise.

-From the cathedral of souls in Purgatory opens views of the valley.

-Then I had to go up a steep hill, where a narrow street led to another cathedral.

-A bit of historical background, Ragusa was built on the foundations of an ancient Sicilian settlement, which was founded in the 14th century BC. The Siculians had to endure quite a successful war with the Greeks, but at the end of the 3rd century B.C. Ragusa lost its independence and was conquered by Rome, who ruled here for almost 800 years. After Rome fell in the 5th century and Sicily survived the invasion of the barbarians Vandals and then the Goths, the Byzantines took over Ragusa in 535 and built their fortifications there. In 848 the city was conquered by the Arabs.

In 1089 the Normans invaded Sicily and besieged Ragusa, the city rebelled against the Muslims and Ragusa fell. Later, an era of medieval rulers, often changing hands, took place, until the Aragonese (Spaniards) conquered Ragusa in the 15th century, ruling the city until the 18th century. During their rule, there was a great earthquake, which killed half of the inhabitants of the city.

When in 1860 Garibaldi landed in Sicily, the people of Ragusa sent him reinforcements, and Ragusa became part of the Kingdom of Italy.

Lastly, I would like to mention the fact that it was in Ragusa that a bloody struggle broke out between the Fascists and Socialists in the 20s. The fascists were victorious and in gratitude to Mussolini in 1927 gave to Ragusa the status of the capital of the province, which it enjoys to this day.

-But enough history-walking around the cathedral to enter through the main entrance.

The Duomo di San Giorgio stands in Piazza Duomo (Cathedral Square).

This is how it looks like from the bird’s-eye view – Internet photo

Before the devastating earthquake of 1693, was in the area of the Ibley Garden (about 100 meters). Only the portal (14th century) remains of that temple and in 1739 the first stone was laid for the construction of the new Cathedral of St. George, designed by Rosario Gagliardi. The cathedral was completed in 1775.

The monumental Baroque façade is preceded by a tall and wide staircase with 54 steps.

-The plan of the cathedral is a Latin cross. In the center rises a double dome, supported by two rows of columns. The height of the dome is 43 meters.

In the altars of the chapels can be seen the works of Sicilian painters of the 18th century – Antonio Manno, Giuseppe Tresca.

When you enter the cathedral, you realize how chic it is!

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In the cathedral bright red curtains – they decorate all the aisles of the chapels and the walls of the central altar.

In the main altar – beautiful wooden choir of fancy work – photo

Here at the high altar and the sculpture of St. George the Victorious – photo

Inside the cathedral is decorated in the Sicilian Baroque style, but with Rococo elements.

The inside of the cathedral is divided into three high naves, which pass into the round arches of the church

On the sides of the side aisles are numerous chapels (there are ten of them)

The chapels are decorated with Baroque-style works of art of the 18th century, including sculptures and paintings.

Bottom photo: St. George’s Chapel

Under the vaults of the cathedral are beautiful stained-glass windows of the 18th century

The cathedral is rightly classified as a UNESCO World Heritage Site

Also impressive is its 43-meter dome, which was not completed until 1821

-The Duomo Square in front of the cathedral

-The square ends with the cathedral of San Giuseppe, or St. Joseph’s Church. – On the photo.

Before the earthquake, the Benedictine cloister with the cathedral was here, founded in 1590, but it was completely destroyed and in 1756 the cathedral was reconstructed in rococo style.

Bottom photo: Sculptures on the facade of the cathedral- St. Gertrude and the Roman Benedictine Pope Gregory the Great.

The facade of the cathedral is multi-tiered, and the columns also divide it into three vertical sections – the facade also has sculptures of St. Augustine and St. Benedict, St. Joseph

Inside the cathedral is built as an ellipse-photos

The cathedral is small but very light

The bottom photo shows the main altar of the cathedral.

The dome is also made in the form of an ellipse

There are four more altars in the cathedral besides the central one

Bottom photo – the sculpture of St. Giuseppe (Joseph)

The altars of the cathedral are paintings by Sicilian painters of the early 19th century.

-Farther in front of the Ibley Garden – in the photo is the Church of San Vicenzo Ferreri. The foundations of the church date back to 1509, there was a monastery near the church, but it was wiped out by the earthquake. Since 2010, after the restoration, this church has been serving as a music hall.

-Behind the church is the Ibleo Garden (Giardino Ibleo), on an elevation of 380 meters, above the valley of the Irminio River.

-This park is the most beautiful and ancient in Ragusa. It was laid out in the middle of the 19th century. The main avenue of the park is lined with two rows of palm trees, as well as carved benches, columns and stone vases.

-Turning a little to the right of the garden, there’s a fragment of the medieval portal of the old Cathedral (14th century) – and that’s all that’s left after the Great Earthquake. And in the semicircular window you can see St. George killing the serpent. The portal is now sandwiched between two 18th-century buildings.

-I didn’t have much time left, but I decided to take the road back down the hill. I had to walk down the ancient stairs to the river

-There’s also a highway.

-Bassa Ragusa was at the top, above me

-I had to go up again because of the difference in elevation -and at the end I was tired, but I could have taken a bus from Ibley Garden to the city center.

-I ended up back again already on the evening street Via Roma.

-The locals showed up and went out for their city promenade

-I crossed again over the bridge of the huge ravine and soon found myself at the train station from which I left for Syracuse

-So I saw in this south-eastern corner of the island, three baroque cities Noto, Modica and Ragusa, and in general Unesco has attributed yet to the World Heritage Sites – Catania, Syracuse and another 4 cities – but on them I had no time, and the reviews of tourists. I realized that Noto, Modica and Ragusa – the best in the list of baroque cities and they can fully form an idea of the Sicilian Baroque.

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For tomorrow I had planned to see the ancient city of Syracuse, but about that in the next report. which you can read – here – “Syracuse – a city that everyone has heard about”.

14 Sights of Ragusa worth visiting


Nestled among the mountain peaks, northwest of Modica, Ragusa is a city “with two faces.” At the top of the hill is Ragusa Superiore, a lively city with a rational street network and all the trappings of a modern provincial capital. And on the slope of the same hill is “engraved” Ragusa Ibla, a magnificent old district with intricate alleyways, gray stone houses, baroque palazzos and small pretty squares, which is actually the historical center of Ragusa.

Like many other towns in the region, Ragusa Ibla (Old Town) was destroyed by an earthquake in 1693. After that, a new town, Ragusa Superiore, was built on a high plateau. But aristocrats did not want to leave their dilapidated palaces and eventually rebuilt Ragusa Ibla in its former location. In 1927 the two towns were united.

In the same year of 1927 a single Ragusa became the capital of the province of the same name, surpassing its main competitor – Modica. The sights of Ragusa are concentrated, as is to be expected, mainly in the Old Town. However, this does not mean that the new town is not worthy of attention – be sure to look there too, especially since these areas are essentially located next to each other.

Ragusa Ibla (Old Town)

Ragusa Ibla (Old town)

Ragusa Ibla (Old City).

The site of the Old City is thought to have been the site of the Hibla settlement in ancient times and then the Greek Gebla Geraia. Like the New Town above, this quiet neighborhood with its narrow, crooked streets was essentially rebuilt after the 1693 earthquake. So amongst the old buildings that survived the earthquake you can find many examples of 18th century Baroque architecture. You can also find some traces of the old buildings, but not many.

From Piazza della Repubblica a broad staircase leads to the Baroque church of Anime del Purgatorio. Nearby are the two 18th century palaces, the Palazzo Cosentini and the Palazzo Bertini.

Address: Ragusa Ibla, Ragusa, Italy.

Cathedral of San Giovanni

The Cathedral of San Giovanni

San Giovanni Cathedral.

You might be puzzled to find in Piazza del Duomo, not a cathedral as you might expect, but the church of San Giorgio. The cathedral is in Piazza San Giovanni, named after the saint to whom the temple itself is dedicated. This square, which forms a terrace because of the rough terrain, is shaded by the cathedral’s imposing facade and its tall campanile (bell tower).

The construction of San Giovanni Cathedral took most of the 1700s. The time was not wasted – something striking came out, with a facade in the typical Southern Sicilian Baroque style, with statues and three portals. The inner chapels, in the shape of a Latin cross, with a nave and two aisles, are richly decorated with gilded Rococo moldings and statues of polychrome marble. The columns separating the aisles are also decorated in gilt. Behind the cathedral is a beautiful Baroque presbytery.

Address: Cathedral of Saint John Baptist, Piazza San Giovanni, Ragusa, Italy.

Church of San Giorgio

Church of San Giorgio

Church of San Giorgio.| Photo: Andrea Schaffer / Flickr.

At one end of Piazza del Duomo is the Church of San Giorgio, built between 1744 and 1775 according to the drawings of Rosario Gagliardi (his designs are preserved in the sacristy). It is one of the architect’s best works and, like the church of the same name in nearby Modica, a particularly beautiful example of Sicilian Baroque architecture.

The Church of San Giorgio rises majestically at the top of a wide staircase. It is flanked by three columns on each side of the main entrance doorway in the convex central part of the facade. These columns extend up to the upper floor, from where a sculpted bell tower, ornamented with bells, rises into the sky.

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The high dome, located above where the transept crosses the nave, was added only in 1820. Once inside, be sure to take a look at the 18th-century altar, The Glory of Saint Nicholas, by Vito d’Anna.

Address: Church of Saint George, Salita Duomo, Ragusa, Italy.

The Garden of Ibleo.

Ibleo Garden

Ibleo Garden. | Photo: Stijn Nieuwendijk / Flickr,

At the foot of the rocky ridge of Ibleo is the Giardino Ibleo public city park, which offers a beautiful view of the surrounding valleys. Serving as the pride of the city, this well-kept green garden is a favorite stroll destination for locals and tourists alike.

Watching the children with their parents or the grandchildren with their grandparents meeting in the Ibleo Garden, watching the teenagers strolling along the green alleys under the arm, will allow you to get a closer look at the life of an ordinary Sicilian.

Address: Giardino Ibleo, Ragusa, Italy.

Church of Santa Maria del Itria

Church of Santa Maria del Itria

Church of Santa Maria del Itria.

Among the most beautiful sights in Ragusa is the bell tower of the Church of Santa Maria del Itria, located in the old Jewish quarter of the city and founded in the XIV century by the Knights of Malta.

Under its cobalt-blue dome is an octagonal drum of terracotta decorated with rococo patterns. Floral patterns are also carved into the portals and are reflected in the oldest of the five altars. Garlands of flowers and fruit also adorn the interior spiral columns.

Address: Chiesa di Santa Maria dell’Itria, Salita Commendatore, Ragusa, Italy.

Church of the Holy Souls in Purgatory (Anime del Purgatorio)

Church of the Holy Souls in Purgatory (Anime del Purgatorio)

Church of the Holy Souls in Purgatorio (Anime del Purgatorio).

Like the cathedral and the church of San Giorgio, the Baroque Church of the Holy Souls rises at the top of a long, wide staircase. The entrance to the church is decorated with carved patterns of plant motifs, above which one can see reliefs depicting souls in Purgatory. The other portals are false: this is interpreted to mean that there is only one true path to heaven.

Inside the temple, you can look at the main altar made of multicolored marble from the late 18th century, at the large painting depicting souls in Purgatory by Francesco Manno, and at the sculptures of skulls with symbols of popes, cardinals, bishops and kings, meant to remind you of the transience of earthly attributes of power and wealth.

Address: Chiesa delle Santissime Anime del Purgatorio, Piazza della Repubblica, Ragusa, Italy.

Church of San Giuseppe

Church of San Giuseppe

Church of San Giuseppe.

This church dedicated to St. Joseph, like many other churches in the city, was designed by Rosario Gagliardi. Perhaps that’s why its dynamic curved facade is very similar to that of the church of San Giorgio. The semicircular portal is crowned by statues of four saints; more sculptures depicting saints stand in the arched window above. The pediment above them is decorated with carved scrolls.

The elliptical interior of the church is richly decorated with frescoes and paintings, and the five stone altars are decorated with stained glass, making them look like marble. Two niches in the front contain statues, one of papier-mâché, the other a 16th-century silver statue of St. Joseph.

Address: Church of Saint Joseph, Via Valverde, Ragusa, Italy.

Church of Santa Maria delle Scale

Church of Santa Maria delle Scale

Church of Santa Maria delle Scale.

At the end of Corso Italia stands the Church of Santa Maria delle Scale, named after the staircase leading to the Old Town below. The church was built in the eighteenth century, and parts of an earlier 15th-century late Gothic church, including the bell tower and portal, have been preserved.

The square in front of the church offers a beautiful view of the old town, Ragusa Iblù, extending to the stunning dome of San Giorgio.

Address: Santa Maria delle scale, Discesa Santa Maria, Ragusa, Italy.

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Ibleo Archaeology Museum

Ibleo Archaeology Museum

Ibleo Archaeology Museum.

The Museum of Archaeology, which occupies the building of the Palazzo Mediteraneo, displays in topographic and chronological order exhibits of prehistoric, Greek and Roman times found in Ragusa itself and its surroundings.

Particularly noteworthy is the collection of ceramics from the 6th century B.C. from Attica and ceramics from the town of Skornavacce, once an important center of trade. In addition, there are bronzes from the Greek settlement of Camarina, a Doric caryatid from the 4th century B.C., a floor mosaic from Santa Croce Camerina and finds from the Trabace Cave from the Late Roman period.

Address: Museo Archeologico Ibleo di Ragusa, Via Natalelli, Ragusa, Italy.

Cathedral Museum

Cathedral Museum

Cathedral Museum.

Next to the church of San Giorgio is the small Cathedral Museum, open only on weekends. The museum contains stone statues and reliefs that survived the 1693 earthquake, paintings collected from destroyed churches, and architectural drawings of the latter. Don’t miss the small 15th century stone carving showing a honeycomb with a honeycomb and a jug.

Address: Museum of the Cathedral of St. George, Salita Duomo, Ragusa, Italy.

City of Modica


City of Modica.

Like Ragusa, Modica was badly damaged during an earthquake in 1693 and was later rebuilt but mostly in the Sicilian Baroque style. Like Ragusa, it is characterized by a “split personality” – there is also an upper and a lower town.

The highlight of Modica is the eighteenth-century Church of San Giorgio, which dominates the Upper Town and to which a staircase of 250 steps leads. Its façade with five doorways is topped by a tall central tower that further emphasizes the height of the building.

In constructing this church, the architect Rosario Gagliardi used material left over from an earlier building on the site that was destroyed by an earthquake. The interior of the church is decorated by the Renaissance altarpiece painted by Bernardino Niger in 1573, preserved from the old church.

The main attractions in the Lower Town are the 15th-century Church of the Carmina with its Gothic rose window, the splendid baroque San Pietro and the 1400s Palazzo de Leova with its Norman doorway.

Address: Modica, Ragusa, Italy.

Donnafugata Castle

Donnafugata Castle

Donnafugata Castle.

Donnafugata Castle, which offers a beautiful view, is well known to fans of the detective series “Commissario Montalbano” as the home of former Mafia boss Don Balduccio Sinagra, because it was Donnafugata that was used as a filming location.

Although Donnafugata certainly looks like a castle on the outside, its interior is more like a palace. Its rooms are elaborately decorated and furnished, and the walls are covered with frescoes and damask cloth.

Not only the rooms of the castle are of interest, but also its territory, on which grows 1500 species of plants and stands a stone labyrinth, the walls of which are high enough to hide the adjacent paths. This trapezoidal-shaped labyrinth appears to have been modeled after the famous labyrinth at Hampton Court Palace on the outskirts of London.

The name of the castle, Donnafugata, means “fugitive woman”, which has given rise to several legends.

Address: Castello di Donnafugata, Contrada Donnafugata, Ragusa, Ragusa, Italy.

Catacombs of Cava Trabace (Grotta delle Trabace in Ragusa)

Catacombs of Cava Trabace (Grotta delle Trabace in Ragusa)

Catacombs of Cava Trabace (Grotta delle Trabace in Ragusa).

The Trabace Cave serves as evidence of late Roman and Byzantine settlements in the area called Bottino and Centopozzi. In this area, in addition to ancient burials, the remains of a Byzantine farmhouse and village church were also found. The catacombs of Cava Trabace appeared in one of Captain Montalbano’s investigations, in a series called “The Mystery of the Terracotta Dog”.

Address: Grotta Delle Trabacche, Ragusa, Ragusa, Italy.

Cava Celone Catacombs

Catacombs of Cava Celone

Catacombs of Cava Celone.

The Cava Celone burial complex, which dates back to late Roman times, includes three large hypogea and several more modestly sized ones. These are underground corridors with burial niches along the walls (there are also monumental burials in the form of isolated sarcophagi). This necropolis was dated IV-V centuries AD.

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