Cathedral of Messina
The Cathedral of Messina, also known as Cathedral Basilica of Santa Maria Assunta, is the main monument of the city of the Strait. The Cathedral, although rebuilt after the destruction suffered by earthquakes and wars, reproduces its original appearance quite faithfully. Its pipe organ is the second largest in Italy after that of the Milan Cathedral.
It was built in 530 AD, on the ruins of the Temple of Neptune dating back to the 7th century BC, at the behest of of Emperor Justian I. Since during the Arab colonization in Sicily, the city of Messina was one of the main Muslim centers of the whole island, buildings such as the Cathedral of Messina and the Church of the Santissima Annunziata dei Catalani were adapted to house the mosques. In the 11th century, the Grand Count Roger I of Sicily freed Messina from the Arabs, the Cathedral of Messina thus returned to its original cult. Between the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, the Cathedral of Messina was damaged several times due to natural disasters, including the earthquake of 1693, to be always rebuilt. During the eighteenth century the church was subjected to various alterations and extensions, various Baroque details were also included in the Cathedral of Messina.
The façade shows a double sloping structure, presents three late Gothic portals, and is characterized by an elegant battlements on its top. In the lower part there are very colored marble streaks, which also surround the main entrance portal. This, made between the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries by Antonio Baboccio, is surmounted by a high relief with a Madonna and Child, the work of Pietro de Bonitate of 1468. The right side portal is the work of Rinaldo Bonanno, made in 1545 on a design by Polidoro da Caravaggio.
Right next to the Cathedral of Messina is its stupendous Bell Tower, also known as Astronomical Clock of Messina.
L’interno della chiesa, a pianta basicale con transetto e tre absidi semicircolari, è a tre navate separate da tredici colonne che formano delle arcate, sulle quali sono presenti numerosi decori, tra stucchi e capitelli. Dei tre mosaici che decorano le absidi, l’unico originale del Trecento è quello di sinistra.
Tra le opere custodite all’interno della chiesa, di notevole pregio sono: un rame sbalzato e dorato di Pietro Juvarra del 1660 che raffigura l’Ambasceria dei Messinesi alla Vergine.; la statua di San Giovanni Battista realizzata nel 1525 da Antonello Gagini.
Di notevole interesse è l’organo polifonico del Duomo di Messina realizzato nel 1948 dalla ditta Tamburini di Cremona, con cinque tastiere con 61 tasti, una pedaliera a ventaglio con 32 tasti e 17.500 canne.
All’interno della Cattedrale di Messina si trova il Museo del Tesoro del Duomo.