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Sicilië bezienswaardigheden

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Piazza Duomo
23 Tours en activiteiten

Piazza Duomo is de meest memorabele bezienswaardigheid van de stad als het gaat om architectuur en navigatie. Het is het kloppend hart van de binnenstad van Catania en een strategisch beginpunt voor stadswandelingen. Het plein, dat op de UNESCO-werelderfgoedlijst staat, wordt omgeven door grote gebouwen. Het was de creatieve visie van de plaatselijke architect Vaccarini en een vooraanstaand voorbeeld van de bejubelde Siciliaanse barokstijl.

Aan de noordzijde van het plein domineert de sierlijke Palazzo Degli Elefanti, waar nu het stadhuis in gevestigd is. Aan de oostkant staat de vorstelijke Kathedraal van Sant’Agata met daarnaast het elegante Bisschopspaleis en de zuilengang Porta Uzeda. Midden op het plein staat de belangrijkste bezienswaardigheid, de Fontana dell'Elefante van Giovanni Battista. Dit is een monumentale fontein waarop het embleem van de stad staat, het beeld van een olifant die een obelisk draagt. Dit geheel is gemaakt van vulkanisch gesteente en dateert uit 1736.

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Martorana
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18 Tours en activiteiten

The church known most commonly as “La Martorana” is an architectural example of Sicily’s changing allegiances over the centuries. The facade alone features three different architectural styles.

The Martorana (Santa Maria dell’Ammiraglio is the official name) dates back to 1141. You can no longer see the original Norman facade, but you can still see the typical Norman red dome from the exterior. Thankfully, once you’re inside the church, the original 12th century mosaics still shine in all their Byzantine glory. These mosaics are the highlight of a visit to La Martorana, and if you want to see them at their best, go first thing in the morning.

Back outside the church, you’ll notice that over the old Norman facade there is now a Baroque facade and a Romanesque bell tower. After the church was completed in the mid-12th century, it was later given to a Benedictine nun by the name of Eloisa Martorana.

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Church of the Santissima Annunziata dei Catalani (Chiesa della Santissima Annunziata dei Catalani)
9 Tours en activiteiten

Dit prachtige voorbeeld van religieuze architectuur uit de 12de en 13de eeuw is een van de meest geprezen bezienswaardigheden in heel Messina. Dat komt omdat dit gebouw bleef staan bij een aardbeving in 1908, waarbij het grootste deel van de stad werd verwoest. Vandaag de dag wordt de Annunziata gebruikt als kerk voor de nabijgelegen universiteit, maar reizigers kunnen nog steeds het gebouw bezoeken en genieten van de oorspronkelijke pracht.

Vanaf de westelijke ingang ontdekt u drie oude deuren die de opmerkelijk goed bewaard gebleven gevel sieren. Eenmaal binnen ziet u enorme Korinthische zuilen in gele, witte en rode steen. Een legendarisch standbeeld van Juan van Oostenrijk, staand met zijn voet op de Ottomaanse leider Ali Bassa, staat meer achterin de kerk.

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Capuchin Catacombs (Catacombe dei Cappuccini)
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7 Tours en activiteiten

One of the most famous sights in Palermo - albeit an incredibly macabre one - is the extensive network of Catacombs under the Capuchin Monastery. These crypts hold thousands of mummified remains, some of which are spookily well-preserved.

The Capuchins began burying their own friars in the crypts underneath the monastery in the 16th century, and they soon discovered that the unique conditions in the catacombs - combined with their own burial traditions - preserved the bodies extremely well. It wasn’t long before Sicilians decided that being buried in the Capuchin Catacombs - and therefore being preserved after death - was a status symbol.

In total, there are more than 8,000 bodies interred in Palermo’s Capuchin Catacombs, in varying states of preservation and from all walks of life. There are chambers dedicated to priests, monks, women, men, and children. Some are still encased in coffins, some are perched in standing positions on the walls.

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Zisa Castle (Castello della Zisa)
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6 Tours en activiteiten

La Zisa is yet another remnant of Moorish reign in Sicily. The Norman castle was built in the 12th century, and it’s worth a visit although the interior has long since been cleared of its original decoration.

The palace of La Zisa was originally designed as part of an extensive park that served as a royal summer retreat. The grounds were stocked with wild animals (and fenced), giving the royals something to hunt. The park, known as the Genoard, also included another Norman-era palace that still stands in Palermo, La Cuba.

There were architectural alterations made in the 14th century, and by the 16th century the building had fallen into disrepair - it was even being used to store items contaminated with the plague. In the 1970s, city officials in Palermo acquired and began to restore La Zisa, a project that took more than 20 years. Today, the palace houses a Museum of Islamic Art on the second floor.

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Catania Archaeological Park (Parco Archeologico Greco-Romano di Catania)
6 Tours en activiteiten

Ondanks de verwoestingen door minstens 17 uitbarstingen van de vulkaan Etna sinds de oprichting zijn de sporen van de lange geschiedenis nog steeds zichtbaar. De meest opvallende gebouwen zijn de Romeinse theaters van de Parco Archeologico Greco-Romano di Catania. De opmerkelijk goed bewaard gebleven ruïnes dateren uit de 2de eeuw en staan in het midden van de moderne stad. In schril contrast met het middeleeuwse Castello Ursino en de elegante barokke meesterwerken die in de buurt staan.

Het Parco Archeologico Greco-Romano di Catania is de thuisbasis van drie hoofdgebouwen, waaronder het Teatro Romano (Romeins Theater), ooit een enorm theater met 7.000 zitplaatsen, samengesteld uit marmer en zwarte lavasteen. Ook staat er een amfitheater, ooit de grootste in zijn soort op Sicilië met tot 15.000 zitplaatsen. Aanvullende hoogtepunten zijn een serie van Romeinse baden en het kleinere, maar niet minder indrukwekkende Odeon theater.

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Ursino Castle (Castello di Ursino)
5 Tours en activiteiten

Het meest indrukwekkende overblijfsel van middeleeuws Catania is het enorme Castello Ursino, gebouwd door keizer Frederik II in de vroege 13de eeuw. Tegenwoordig is het Museo Civico hier gevestigd. Het kasteel werd in eerste instantie hoog op de rotsen gebouwd als bewaking van de Siciliaanse kust, maar werd tijdens de uitbarstingen van de vulkaan Etna in de 17de eeuw omringd met lava. Nu staat het dan ook 500 meter landinwaarts op de punt van het moderne stadscentrum.

U vindt er nu een indrukwekkende collectie van kunstwerken en objecten, waarvan vele afkomstig zijn uit de persoonlijke collecties van de prins van Biscari. Zo is er een serie van Siciliaanse schoolschilderijen, een Hellenistisch beeld van Polyphemus, een reliëf met Romeinse gladiatoren en grote exposities van wapens, beelden en porselein.

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Bell Tower and Astronomical Clock (Orologio Astronomico)
4 Tours en activiteiten

Een van de publiekstrekkers van Messina is de kathedraal, die een eigen klokkentoren heeft. De toren van ruim 60 meter hoog is gebouwd aan het einde van de 16de eeuw. In de 18de eeuw werd de constructie verwoest bij een aardbeving en in 1908 werd het geheel herbouwd. In 1933 werd een astronomische klok geïnstalleerd op de top van de toren, wat ook nu nog een van de grootste klokken in zijn soort ter wereld is. De klokkenvoorstelling begint elke middag om 12:00 uur, als de klokken gaan klingelen, een leeuw brult, een haan kraait en er een optocht van gouden beelden over de top van de toren draait. Het is een spectaculaire show die dagelijks weer bezoekers trekt.

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Circumetnea Railway (Ferrovia Circumetnea)
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There are many ways to explore the sights of Sicily, including its famous volcano - Mt. Etna. If you’re not up for hiking to the volcano’s crater, you can stay closer to sea level and circle the mountain with a train ride on the Circumetnea Railway. The Circumetnea Railway, as you might guess from the name, more or less circumnavigates the base of Mt. Etna, from Catania to Riposto on Sicily’s eastern coast. The entire trip is just over 68 miles, with 35 stops in total (including the cities at either end of the route). The track was first laid in the late 1800s.
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Alcantara Gorges (Gole dell'Alcantara)
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16 Tours en activiteiten
A volcano can create some pretty interesting terrain, and Sicily’s Mt. Etna is no exception. Some of the geographic impacts of Mt. Etna aren’t even visible above ground, as is the case with some of the Alcantra Gorges. The Alcantra River runs from Mt. Nebrodi, roughly 32 miles inland from Taormina, and feeds into the Ionian Sea near Giardini-Naxos. Because the river runs through and around volcanic rock, it has carved some intricate paths along the way. Most of them are open and visible, while others snake underground.
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Meer dingen om te doen in Sicilië

Aeolian Islands (Isole Eolie)

Aeolian Islands (Isole Eolie)

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16 Tours en activiteiten

The Aeolian Islands are a collection of eight islands off the northeastern coast of Sicily. The archipelago takes its name from the Greek god of wind, Aeolus, and the islands themselves are the result of volcanic activity hundreds of thousands of years ago.

The largest of the Aeolian Islands - collectively, a UNESCO World Heritage Site - is Lipari, which is also the name of the main town on the island. There’s a year-round population on Lipari of more than 10,000. The next-largest is Salina, with three distinct towns, followed by Vulcano, with a population of less than 500 people. Many of the islands have active volcanoes on them, or, in some cases, are made up almost entirely of a volcano. Stromboli, for instance, is a conical island that consists almost completely of Mt. Stromboli, a still-active volcano.

The Aeolian Islands are incredibly popular during the summer months, when their beaches draw sun worshippers from Italy and elsewhere in Europe.

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Messina Cruise Port (Terminal Crociere di Messina)

Messina Cruise Port (Terminal Crociere di Messina)

6 Tours en activiteiten

Messina is the 'door of Sicily'. A busy port town located on the narrow Strait of Messina, famous for its unruly waters and conflicting currents, it is the closest city to mainland Italy and often a first port of call for travelers from other parts of Europe.

The city has endured many tests over the centuries: revolt against the Spanish in 1678, which burnt the city to the ground; earthquakes in 1783 and 1908 (this one sank the shore half a meter and killed 80,000 people); and World War II bombing in 1943. Also, the famous volcano Mt Etna smokes and breathes daily in the hills behind the city. Despite all this, Messina thrives as a noisy, crowded port city.

The cruise port is right in the heart of downtown Messina and it is easy to walk straight off the ship and into the Piazza del Duomo, the heart of the old town area and the part you'll want to explore.

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Monreale

Monreale

5 Tours en activiteiten

Overlooking the Golden Valley (Conca d’Oro) on top of Mons Regalis, the medieval village of Monreale earns a spot on the travel map for its magnificent mosaic-filled cathedral, built by William II and completed in 1184. The grand Duomo, considered to be one of the best examples of Norman architecture in Sicily, is filled with mosaics depicting scenes from the Old Testament, covering some 68,889 square feet (6,400 square meters) of the interior.

Beside the cathedral is the abbey cloister, built around the same time as the church and expanded in the 1300s. This portion of the structure is best known for its 200-plus intricate double columns decorated in glass mosaic. Each column’s capital depicts a different aspect of medieval Sicily.

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Marzamemi

Marzamemi

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3 Tours en activiteiten

The small town of Marzamemi sits at the southeastern-most point of Sicily, and is known for its pretty beach and abundant seafood. Historically, Marzamemi has long been known as an important seafood processing town. The Arabs who came to Sicily in the 9th century C.E. started some of the first fish processing operations here, and the tuna processing facility that was built in the 16th century – the Tonnara – still stands today. This historic building is no longer used for fish processing, however.

Marzamemi still serves as a fish processing center, but the town is far more popular as a summer seaside tourist destination. The small town swells in size during the summer, as visitors flock to the pretty beach and historic center. In addition to the Tonnara and the town's beautiful beach, don't miss the Church of San Francesco di Paola.
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Noto

Noto

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3 Tours en activiteiten

The city of Noto is located on the southeastern coast of Sicily, and it makes up part of the Val di Noto UNESCO World Heritage site. Settlements in Noto date back to the 3rd century B.C.E., in present-day nearby Noto Antica. The newer city of Noto was rebuilt in a slightly different position after an earthquake in the late 17th century C.E. that completely destroyed the town. Having the entire place rebuilt in the then-popular Sicilian Baroque style led to the town being one of several in the area that remain perfect examples of the best of this unique architectural style. These Val di Noto towns were added to UNESCO's list in 2002.

Of all the Val di Noto towns, Noto itself is seen as the best showcase of the Sicilian Baroque. The town's many churches are exquisite and worth visiting, along with other historic buildings in the city center. Walk down the Corso Vittorio Emanuele III to see the prettiest buildings, taking your time and enjoying the scenery.

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Acireale

Acireale

2 Tours en activiteiten

In addition to larger and more famous cities and towns on Sicily’s eastern coast - like Catania, Taormina, and Syracuse - there are several notable towns that may not be on your radar but are excellent bases for exploring the area. One of these cities is Acireale, which sits at the base of Mount Etna, not far from Catania.

Attractions in Acireale include a number of beautiful churches (one of which is in the famous Sicilian Baroque style) and several public parks and gardens. One of the parks overlooks the sea, giving visitors the lovely combination of being surrounded by a nature reserve and having glorious views of the water. Acireale is a mid-sized city, but compared to nearby popular destinations like Taormina it may feel a bit further away from the tourist crowds, even in the summer. The time when Acireale will feel like the entire planet has arrived is during the city’s annual Carnival celebrations.

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Marsala

Marsala

2 Tours en activiteiten

You might be familiar with the name “Marsala” because of the famous fortified wine that originates in the city - and in fact, one of Marsala’s nicknames is the “Città del Vino,” or city of wine. It would be a shame to get to this city on the western coast of Sicily and not try its namesake wine, but that’s surely not the only reason to visit.

Marsala is a historic port city, the furthest point west on the island of Sicily, and is known for its history, beaches, and, of course, wine. The ancient Roman city that once occupied this spot was one of the most important on the island, thanks to its position as a busy commercial port. Today, while Marsala is still a port city, it’s more of a tourist area than a commercial center. Things to do and see in Marsala include an archaeological museum, a former Benedictine monastery (which houses a Garibaldi exhibit), the lagoon (popular with windsurfing and kite surfing), and the nearby island of Motya.

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Taormina Old Town (Centro Storico)

Taormina Old Town (Centro Storico)

2 Tours en activiteiten

The town that we know today as Taormina is in an area in which there has been a settlement of some kind since the 8th century B.C.E. - but in the town itself one of the oldest neighborhoods is the Borgo Medievale, or medieval quarter.

Taormina’s historic core centers on the Borgo Medievale, with its picturesque cobblestone streets. The buildings themselves have been beautifully preserved, giving the whole quarter a postcard look. The main street in Taormina, Corso Umberto I, runs through the center of the medieval quarter from the Piazza IX Aprile to the Piazza del Duomo.

You can begin your tour of the medieval quarter from the Piazza IX Aprile and going through the arch in the 12th century clock tower. The tower was actually almost completely destroyed in the 17th century, and when it was rebuilt the clock was added. The tower serves as something of a gateway to the Borgo Medievale, most of which dates from the 15th century.

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