U LIOTRU, OUR NICE CATANESE ELEPHANT.

The most representative symbol of the city of Catania is perhas the elephant fountain.

It is a work created between 1735 and 1737 by the architect Giovanni Battista Vaccarini. It is located in the center of the Piazza del Duomo (the Cathedral Square) in Catania. This statue represents an elephant called in Sicilian dialect “U Liotru”o Diotru and it is considered the emblem of the Sicilian city.

In 1737 Giovanni Battista Vaccarini finished building the fountain. In 1757 it was restructured and in 1826 it was circumscribed by an iron gate where a garden was built inside.

The unification of Italy decided to move the fountain to Piazza Palestro, but on May 30th 1862 Bonaventura Gravina stopped the transfer. It was restored twice during the twentieth century and in 1998 the gate and the garden were removed: for this reason you can now sit on the steps of the base.

The base is made up of a white marble pedestal and two statues representing Simeto and Amenano are reproduced, above is the statue of the elephant, facing with the trunk towards the Cathedral of Sant’Agata, patron saint of Catania.

On the elephant’s back there is the Egyptian obelisk decorated with Egyptian figures. At the top of the obelisk, there is a globe surrounded by a crown of palm leaves. Above there is a metal tablet where there is the inscription for Sant’Agata and a cross. The statue was made during the Cartaginian or Byzantine domination, the name Liotru derives from the name Heliodorus. He, according to the legends, was a well-known Catanese who tried to become bishop of the diocese, but without succeeding.

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Cristaldi Silvia

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