Cathedral of Acireale

Discover Acireale Sicily

Chiara Todaro Art and Museums, Arte e Musei, Borghi di Sicilia, Catania, Catania, Eastern Sicily, Etna, Etna, History and Culture, Sicilia orientale, Storia e Cultura Leave a Comment

Acireale Sicily is doubtless an interesting destination to visit among the lovers of art and culture, especially to experience the Sicilian folklore, ancient traditions, myths and legends.

At the base of Mount Etna, the territory including Acireale Sicily takes its name from the myth of Acis and Galatea. According to the legend, Acis was killed by his rival, the cyclops Polyphemus, because both of them loved the nymph Galatea: the tradition tells that Polyphemus, seeing them together, had his revenge throwing against Acis a big rock from Etna Volcano, causing his death. Galatea, desperate, wept so long that Zeus, in order to restore Galatea, turned her lover into a river that flows in the southern slope of Etna and reaches the coastline, exactly where the two lovers were used to stay together. Visit Acireale to enjoy the beautiful monumental fountain representing Acis' dead body and the despair of Galatea, a work of art of the last century: it is located in Paris a fountain, dating back to 1866, inspired by the legend of Acis and Galatea, in which the two lovers are tenderly hugged together inside a shell, and Polyphemus stands over them.

The city of Acireale Sicily is known thanks to the Carnival of Acireale, the third most important Carnival in Italy (after the Carnivals organized in Venice and Viareggio): it is considered the most beautiful Carnival in Sicily, with spectacular chariots made of paper mache, flowered chariots and animated chariots with colorful characters. The Carnival of Acireale is one of the most attractive events taking place in Sicily, with more than 200 thousand visitors every year.

Things to visit in Acireale: The Cathedral of Acireale and the Museum of the Sicilian Puppets

The historical city center of Acireale is characterized by Sicilian baroque architecture, especially they are religious buildings like the Cathedral of Acireale and basilicas, dominated by high bell towers and very decorated façades. There you can enjoy the alternation of columns, ornaments, festoons, baroque elements, which are the outcome of several reconstructions, in particular after the earthquake in 1693. To enjoy Acireale attractions, you can easily walk in the city center full of monuments and local restaurants specialized in Sicilian food.

The Cathedral of Acireale presents a Sicilian baroque façade, framed in two bell towers: the bell tower on the right is the oldest one, in a norman-gothic style recalling the medieval architecture; the one on the left dates back to the end of the XIX century and it was built in new gothic style. Inside the Cathedral of Acireale, it is possible to admire the altar of Santa Venera with Her relics, and the silver simulacrum dating back to the second half of the XVII century. Among the things to visit in Acireale don’t miss the sundial with the zodiacal signs, next to the transept of the Cathedral of Acireale, a work of art of 1844. Visiting the historical city center of Acireale Sicily you can enjoy two monumental basilicas dedicated to Saint Sebastian and Saints Peter and Paul. The basilica of Saint Sebastian is rich in decorations and ornaments in the facade, and it stands at the top of a monumental staircase (1754) interrupted by statues representing characters from the Old Testament (Giuditta, David, Giosuè, Mosè, Sansone). The church inside is entirely adorned with precious frescoes inspired to Saint Sebastian’s life and martyr, painted by Pietro Paolo Vasta in 1732: they replace the original works of art destroyed in the earthquake of 1693. Among the works of art you can admire several paintings and chapels, like the Chapel of the Holy Sacrament and the Chapel of The Pity, and a copy of the Holy Shroud painted in 1644.

The Basilica of Saints Peter and Paul, close to the Cathedral of Acireale, dates back to the first half of the XVIII century, and it is characterized by a bell tower on the right side of the façade, with pinnacles and mullioned windows.

Among Acireale attractions, in Acireale Sicily, you can visit the Museum of the Sicilian Puppet Theatre, with many examples of ancient Sicilian Puppets and theatre equipment. The Sicilian Puppets are considered famous tourist Acireale attractions which are known internationally, also they are included in the UNESCO Intangible Cultural Heritage List since 2008. Sicilian Puppets are very esteemed also during educational school experiences focused on Sicilian folklore and cultural identity.

Don’t miss the opportunity to visit Acireale with a monumental itinerary and to experience the discovery of Sicilian myths and legends.