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Taormina Monuments

Taormina Churches and Museums

The most charming churches in Taormina: Gothic style with Arabic influence:

Cathedral (Church of San Nicola)
This was built around 1400 on the ruins of an ancient church. The Gothic style makes the Cathedral looks similar to a fortress. The structure is a Latin cross with a nave and two aisles. The ceiling has wooden beams that are carved in Arabic style. Church of San Pancrazio – This church stands on the ruins of a Greek temple.

Church of San Pancrazio
The church dedicated to the patron saint of Taormina was built around the middle of the sixteenth century. The interior is filled with multi-colored marble and Taormina stone, and contains a fantastic fresco depicting the martyrdom of San Pancrazio. This beautiful church is often closed to the public.

Badia Vecchia
An antique abbey, Badia Vecchia is a building that was built in the fourteenth century in Gothic style and which was recently recovered by the Taormina municipal council. Like Palazzo del Duca di Santo Stefano, the Badia is noteworthy for its strange fortress-look, that is emphasised even more by the battlements built on top of the building.

Palazzo del Duca Santo Stefano
A fourteenth century building in Gothic-Sicilian style with Arabic-Norman influences. The building, which looks much like a fortress, has three floors that are all decorated with splendid mullioned windows with two lights: the ground floor that is reached through an archway, the first floor, with its system of drawbridges and the second floor. It is now the headquarters of Fondazione Mazzullo and houses many Sicilian works of art inside.

Palazzo Corvaja
The first part of this wonderful medieval palace was built by the Arabs during their period of rule. It was a cube-shaped tower that was used for defending the town. Later, Palazzo Crovaja, the seat of the Sicilian Parliament was added to the tower, that was extended over the years and after a period in which it was abandoned after the Second World War, the building was renovated and recovered, maintaining the characteristic mix of styles: Arabic (the tower), Norman (the fifteenth-century hall where the Parliamentary meeting were held), and Gothic (the shape of the façade windows).

Villa Comunale
Towards the end of the nineteenth century, this was the private garden of the English aristocrat Florence Trevelyan, a woman who was a botany and ornithology lover. The property was donated to the Taormina Municipal Council in the nineteen twenties, and Villa Comunale still has some rare plants and eccentric constructions known as “Victorian follies” that are similar to Chinese Pagodas, built according to the creative, original ideas of this aristocratic woman, in the garden.

The best ancient monuments in Taormina, heritage of the Greek-Roman civilization:

Ancient Theater
From this site, which is extremely valuable in architectural terms, there is a wonderful view of all the beautiful places surrounding Taormina: Etna, the Bay of Naxos, the crystal clear sea and Castelmola. The Theater, which is probably of Greek origin, was renovated and extended by the Romans: today it is one of the largest theaters in Sicily, second only to the one in Syracuse. This wonderful monument is now the seat of Taormina Arte, the International Film, Theater and Dance Festival.

Odeon
This was built by Emperor Octavian and was only discovered at the end of the nineteenth century. It is a small theater built with clay bricks.

Naumachie
After the Ancient Theater, this is the oldest building in the city. This imposing wall, that dates back to the first century B.C., is about 130 meters long and has several niches that once held statues of the gods.

The most interesting museums in Taormina to learn about the cultural traditions of this area:

Regional Archaeological Museum
This museum is housed in the Badia Vecchia, and contains some archaeological findings that were found extremely recently, between 1984 and 1998. The exhibition route is divided between two floors and includes objects such as sculptures, ceramics, artifacts from the Ancient Theater, earthenware, an alabaster urn and a Byzantine sword found on the sea bed near Isola Bella.

Antiquarium
This is a small exhibition kept in the house of the ancient theater’s guardian. There are not many archaeological findings in the Antiquarium as most of the objects found during the digs were transferred to museums in Naples, Syracuse and Messina. Some of the most notable objects are some marble statue bases with ancient inscriptions, carved pillars and a marble sarcophagus.

Sicilian Museum of art and folk traditions
Housed in Palazzo Corvaja, this Museum exhibits some figurative art and some examples of Sicilian craftsmen’s art created in the period from the 16th to the 20th century. The exhibits included wooden sculptures, ceramics, Sicilian carts, and posters of puppet shows.

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