A UNESCO World Heritage Site, Piazza Duomo is both a jewel of the Sicilian baroque and the vibrant heart of Catania. Home to some of the city’s most sumptuous architectural treasures, including Palazzo degli Elefanti, the Cathedral di Sant’Agata (Duomo), and the Fontana dell’Elefante, this square is a highlight of Catania city tours.
A showpiece of contrasting white limestone and black lava stone designed by architect Giovanni Battista Vaccarini, Piazza Duomo is the jumping-off point for many walking and Segway tours of Catania’s historic center. Join a private or small-group Catania tour to visit the square along with other top attractions such as Castello Ursino and Monastero dei Benedettini.
A must-see in Catania, the piazza is home to some of the city’s top attractions. The monumental Fontana dell'Elefante is surrounded by the ornate Palazzo Degli Elefanti, which now houses city hall. The palatial Cathedral of Sant’Agata has a marble facade incorporating two rows of pilfered Roman columns. Also here are the elegant Bishop’s Palace and the arched walkway of Porta Uzeda.
Things to Know Before You Go
- Vast, pedestrian-only Piazza Duomo is a welcome break from traffic for families with young kids.
- If you’re joining a walking tour of Catania, wear comfortable shoes and a sun hat.
- Piazza Duomo is well paved and easy to navigate with a wheelchair or stroller.
- As Catania’s main square, Piazza Duomo often hosts concerts and other special events.
How to Get There
Piazza Duomo is located in the heart of Catania’s historic city center, an easy walk from the Catania Centrale train station.
When to Get There
Like all Sicilian cities, Catania can be uncomfortably hot in the summer months, and Piazza Duomo offers no shade. Try to visit in the early morning or late afternoon to avoid the midday heat, or plan to tour the city in spring or fall.
Catania’s Symbolic Fountains
Piazza Duomo’s star attraction is Vaccarini’s monumental Fontana dell'Elefante, built in 1736. At the the center of the square, the fountain is crowned by the city’s emblem: a statue of an elephant carrying an obelisk. Local lore holds that the elephant belonged to the 8th-century magician Heliodorus, said to have been able to turn people into animals, and that the obelisk magically keeps Mount Etna's volcano in check. The second fountain in the square, the Amenano fountain, was built by Neapolitan sculptor Tito Angelini in the 19th century to memorialize the ancient Amenano River, on whose banks the Greeks first founded the city of Catania.