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City of Messina, Sicily.
Photo: City of Messina, Sicily.

Messina, Silicy. Europe Places to Visit

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Messina on the north east coast of Sicily has been an important port since ancient times. In the 8th century B.C. the Greeks established Messina next to the natural port there.

During the early 17th century it reaches its peak, when it was regarded as one of the most important cities of Europe. It has been besieged, sacked, conquered and reconquered many times since its foundation, even suffering great damage during World War II but it has always come back.

The city is situated on the coast of the Strait of Messina and the Tyrrhenian Sea. Opposite on the Italian mainland peninsula is the Villa San Giovanni, while to the south dominating the landscape is Mt Etna.

Places to Visit

Monte di Pietà

Although only the facade of the original palazzo remains, it is still impressive. Destroyed in the Messina earthquake of 1908, it was originally built in 1616.

Scavi Archeologici e Antiquarium di Palazzo Zanca

This excavation of street ruins show the layout of the city during the Roman Empire and Late Antiquity periods and the newer city, started by the Norman Roger in 1082. There are also artefacts and ceramic pottery on display found there.

Palazzo delta Cultura “Antonello da Messina”

Palace of Culture (Palacultura) is a multi-purpose center with three buildings in which there is an auditorium, an outdoor theater, a library and an exhibition centre, which houses a gallery of Modern and Contemporary Art (Galleria d’sArte Moderna e Contemporanea).

Chiesa di Santa Maria Alemanna

This small church was built in 1220 by German workers by Frederick II of Swabia. Attached to it was a hospital for the Teutonic knights that were taking part in the Crusades, only a small arch of that building remains.

Galleria Provinciale d’Arte Moderna

The relatively new Provincial Gallery of Modern and Contemporary Art (opened in 1998) exhibits works from famed artists including Howard Hodkin and Felice Canonico, amongst many others. Located in the Regional Province of Messina building, there are also concerts held there.

Galleria Vittorio Emanuele III

One of the few galleries using iron and glass for the roof in South Italy, the only other one being the Naples Galleria Umberto I. Designed in 1929 by Camillo Puglisi Allegra to complete the large city square of Antonello.

Museo e Cappella Palatina

The Museum of St. John of Malta exhibits the art of the church (Chiesa San Giovanni di Malta) as well as from the region, which has long enjoyed a reputation for wonderful silverworks.

Santuario della Madonna di Montalto

Situated on the Caperrina hill is the Sanctuary of the Madonna of Montalto. This was the first church built after the 1908 earthquake. From the church square there are grand views of the city, the port and the Strait of Messina.

Sacrario Cristo Re

This church, featuring prominently in the backing hills of the city was built where the Castle of Matagrifone once stood, it still has one of the original castle towers. It also has the third largest bell in the country, made from artillery captured by the Italians during World War I.

Nuovo Oratorio della Pace

The Oratory of Peace, located by the Galleria Provinciale d’Arte Moderna.

Acquario di Messina

Built in the 1960s, the building the Messina Aquarium is located in (inside the Villa Mazzini) was inspired by the works of the American architect Frank Lloyd Wright.

At the aquarium are fish, molluscs, crustaceans and reptiles of the Mediterranean on display.

Monastero Montevergine

The Monastero Montevergine, built on an ancient Roman site for the temple of Cybele, was built in 1126, along with the original church. It features prominently on the hills behind Messina.

The present day cathedral was constructed between 1952 and 1961. There is a museum there of the works of art and jewelry contributed by the pilgrims over the hundreds of years as well as archeological artefacts found in the area.

Chiesa San Francesco D’Assisi alléImmacolata

This church is dedicated to St. Francis of Assisi. The first structure was built here in 1254, while the second, made to replace the earlier one was built in 1926 to 1928 after the earthquake of 1908.

Orto Batanico (Botanical Gardens)

Begun by the University of Messina in 1678, it is still managed by them.

Fontana del Nettuno

This fountain, created in 1557 by Giovanni Angelo Montorsoli, symbolised the blessings bestowed upon the city by Neptune, god of the seas.

Teatro Vittorio Emanuele

Designed by Neapolitan Pietro Valente, it openened its doors in 1852. After being destroyed by the 1908 earthquake it was reconstructed, completed in 1980. The main hall is much larger, the interior ceiling is decorated with Guttuso, the Sicilian legend of the fisherman/diver Colapesce.

Forte del Santissimo Salvatore

This long fort was part of the extensive fortifications that surrounded the city, built in 1540 after a visit by Emperor Charles V.

Conclusion

Visitors will find Pisa a delight for the eyes. The many churches, palaces, towers and villas built so long ago all contribute to its status. Its long history and wealth during the Middle Ages still pays off for the city today with the many happy tourists that come for that memorable visit.

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Photo: City of Messina, Sicily.

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Statue of the Madonna blessing the boats leaving the Harbour
Photo: Statue of the Madonna blessing the boats leaving the Harbour

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