Old Mother Church in Castelbuono

The Matrice Vecchia church, dedicated to Maria Santissima Assunta, is the most important place of worship in the village.
It was built in 1362 at the behest of Francesco II Ventimiglia. Recent restorations have brought to light some elements of a previous 13th century building. It is believed that it was originally a mosque, of which the two Moorish windows with tribolated arches, discovered during the restoration, on the older walls remain. It is also believed that the bell tower was built on the ruins of a Saracen tower. The building has undergone various alterations over time and currently mixes the Roman-Gothic, Gothic-Catalan and Composite-Chiaramontane styles.
The facade has a Catalan-Gothic style portal with rampant leaves border and a portico with three round arches dating back to the 16th century. The construction has an unusual element for a church: in the upper part, the façade is surmounted by a typical Ghibelline dovetail battlements. In the portico there are traces of a fresco depicting the scene of the Transit of Mary. The majestic bell tower, due to its structural heaviness in contrast with the spires, recalls the Romanesque-Gothic transition style. In the center is a mullioned window with a marble column, supported by two blind arches resting on small carved shelves, depicting monstrous figures. The dome is broken by a crenellated crown, from which the pinnacle covered with Moorish-style enamel tiles stands out.
A fourth was added to the three naves of the church at the end of the 15th century for reasons of capacity, with a coffered with trabeations resting on carved shelves. Fragments of precious fourteenth-century frescoes with figures of saints and martyrs were discovered on the columns. In particular, a fragment of encaustic painting representing the Marriage of Saint Catherine, of the Sicilian-Tuscan school, is kept next to the door of the sacristy.
On the main altar stands a grandiose Polyptych< /strong>, work of 1520, attributed to Antonello De Saliba, nephew of Antonello da Messina, dedicated to the Virgin Mary, at the top of which there is the wooden Eternal Father holding up the world. In the Polyptych there is a painting of a Patriarch with glasses, a very rare work in sacred painting.
Among the works kept inside the church of particular artistic value are: a marble ciborium by by Mastro Giorgio da Milano from the 16th century, the statue of Santa Maria degli Angeli, from 1520, by Antonello Gagini and the Madonna del Carmelo, from 1500, by Bartolomeo Berrettaro.
The main church of Castelbuono also houses a very interesting crypt with some precious frescoes.

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