What to see in Messina, one-day itinerary including the main monuments and places of interest, including the Duomo, the Orione Fountain and the Archaeological Museum.
The first city in Sicily, which you come to from the continent after crossing the strait to which it gives its name, Messina is located between the sea and the first slopes of the Peloritani Mountains.
The variety of landscapes and colors make it a very suggestive and fascinating destination.
The ancient name of the city was Zancle, which means sickle, deriving from the particular shape of the strip of land that closes its port.
Later it was called Messana.
During the Byzantine and Norman period, the importance of the city grew considerably until it became an important humanistic center in the Middle Ages with the famous Basilian monk San Salvatore dei Greci.
In 1674 it underwent the dominion of the Spaniards who decimated the population by putting in place all kinds of reprisals.
In the eighteenth century plague and earthquake depopulated the city which did not have the strength to flourish completely in the following century due to the Bourbon tyranny and a new cholera epidemic that spread in 1854.
But the hardest test for Messina came with the earthquake of December 28, 1908 which, combined with a tidal wave, destroyed it almost entirely. Following this tragic natural event, the city was rebuilt with strict anti-seismic regulations.
Today's Messina, further rebuilt even after the damage suffered during the Second World War due to air raids, has a modern and functional aspect that makes it a large commercial and tourist center.
Messina was the birthplace of famous personalities, including the philosophers Dicearco and Aristotle, the rhymers Guido and Oddio delle Colonne, the painter Antonello di Giovanni d'Antonio, better known as Antonello da Messina, and the historian Giuseppe La Farina.Recommended readings
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The Duomo, the most important monument, was built by Roger II in the first decades of the twelfth century and consecrated in 1197 in the presence of Henry IV of Swabia.
It was partially rebuilt several times to remedy the damage suffered due to fires, earthquakes and bombings.
The façade still retains the original horizontal bands in relief and the three portals from the late Gothic period, of which the greater one of the high spire is particularly beautiful, on the sides of which are stylophorous lions that support spiral columns on which statuettes rest of Angels and Saints.
The tympanum, where you can admire the coronation of the Virgin, is the work of the sculptor Pietro da Bonate who made it in 1468. The lunette with the Madonna Enthroned is by Gian Battista Mazzola and dates back to 1534.
The interior of the Duomo has three naves with a large transept and three apses.
Opposite the Duomo is the Orione fountain, the work of Fra Giovanni Angelo Motorsoli who worked on it between 1547 and 1550. The three-step fountain consists of a polygonal basin, with fantastic relief animals, on whose edge are placed the statues representing the Tiber, the Nile, the Camaro, as well as a stem carved with tritons and naiads holding two cups, with at the top the statue of Orion, the mythical founder of the city.
Detached from the facade of the Duomo, on the left side, stands the Campanile, with its 60 meters high, which incorporates the largest mechanical clock in the world.
The National Archaeological Museum was established in the early 1900s and collects all the artistic finds from the Peloritano Civic Museum, in addition to the material that was possible to recover after the 1908 earthquake.
The museum's surrounding garden is full of sculptures and architectural remains including Neptune from the Montorsoli fountain located in Piazza Unità d’Italia.
The museum, spread over two floors, consists of 16 rooms, to which must be added a vestibule and a courtyard.
The numerous works of art contained within are invaluable.