The Cathedral of Messina

The Basilica of Santa Maria Assunta or Cathedral of Messina is in the historical center of the homonymous city,
The Cathedral probably dates back to the Norman era, at the behest of Count Roger. Over the centuries, the building has undergone several changes resulting in the superimposition of different stylistic and architectural elements. The earthquakes of 1693 and 1783 seriously damaged the Cathedral of Messina, while the following one in 1908 destroyed it almost completely. The church was rebuilt on a project by the architect Francesco Valenti but suffered further damage in 1943, during the bombing of the Second World War. The following reconstruction works succeeded in bringing the Cathedral of Messina back to its original style and shape. In 1933 the bell tower of the Cathedral and the mechanisms of its mechanical and astronomical clock were added.
The main facade of the Cathedral of Messina has three late Gothic portals. The central one, built between the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries, is the work of Antonio Baboccio da Piperno. In 1468 Pietro de Bonitate added, in the upper part of the portal, a high relief with a Madonna and Child. The right side portal, instead, is the work of Rinaldo Bonanno, built in 1545 on the design of Polidoro da Caravaggio. The interior of the church has three naves, with a transept and three semicircular apses. Of the three mosaics that decorate the apses, the only original of the fourteenth century is the one on the left.
The polyphonic organ of the Cathedral of Messina is the second largest in Italy (the first is that of the Cathedral of Milan). Made in 1948 by the company Tamburini of Cremona, it has five keyboards with 61 keys, a fan pedalboard with 32 keys and 17,500 pipes. Inside the Cathedral of Messina it is also possible to visit the Treasure of the Cathedral: a collection of sacred furnishings, vestments and reliquaries, many of which made by Messina silversmiths. The most important piece of the collection is surely the “Golden Manta” of the Madonna della Lettera. The work commissioned to the Florentine goldsmith and architect Innocenzo Mangani dates back to 1659.

The bell tower with its extraordinary clock is a wonderful work of the cathedral.
The bell tower of Messina Cathedral contains the largest and most complex mechanical and astronomical clock in the world. Designed by the Ungerer company of Strasbourg, it was inaugurated in 1933 and is still the main attraction of the city. At 12 noon a complex system of levers and counterweights allows the movement of the bronze statues.
The bell tower can be visited inside. Along the path of the stairs, you can admire the bronze statues and the complex and ingenious system of levers and gears that allow the movement of the clock. Once you reach the belvedere, you can enjoy the 360° panorama of the city and its strait.
The mechanism moves every day at 12 noon and lasts 12 minutes. Every quarter of an hour during the day the two heroines on either side of the rooster, Dina and Clarenza, beat the quarters and the hours, and the carousel of ages move.

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Giuseppe Panebianco


II A – Furci Siculo


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