Basilica of San Sebastiano in Palazzolo Acreide
The Basilica of San Sebastiano di Palazzolo Acreide is the largest of the city's churches.
The ancient church was built at the end of the 15th century on a pre-existing church dedicated to San Rocco. It was later enlarged due to the growing urbanization of the district, and finished in 1655. The disastrous earthquake of 1693 destroyed it, along with most of the churches in the town. The current building was built at the end of the same century. The church, also dedicated to San Sebastiano, was built on the same site, but using a basilica layout. The architect of the monumental facade was the Syracusan architect Mario Diamante. The works were completed around 1782.
The façade of the church of San Sebastiano, 35 meters high, is made of Iblea cut stone. Its monumentality forms an incomparable background to the large square it overlooks, Piazza del Popolo. The monumental staircase built in 1877 connects the street level with the gallery on which the access portals to the basilica stand.
The façade is divided into three orders embellished with structural and compositional members in a late Renaissance style. The first order is characterized by a portal with four paired Corinthian-type arabesque columns at the sides and with two white stone lions at the base, sculpted by Diamante himself. Above, in a niche located on the base of the tympanum, the simulacrum of San Sebastiano stands out. On the sides of the portal, there are smaller doors with columns and relative pediment surmounted by a large occhialone. The second order is characterized by four other coupled columns, with a pediment of the same type as the first order. Among these is the dial of a large electric clock that replaced the mechanical clock dating back to 1885. Two large scrolls close the sides of the second order. The third order, which shows the same pediment with coupled columns, includes the bell loggia, dominated at the top by two bells.
The Basilica of San Sebastiano has, inside, the typical Latin cross plan, with three naves. separated by four pillars on each side with half-columns supporting five arches. The vault of the nave presents a pictorial apparatus with scenes depicting the Martyrdom of San Sebastiano with a cloud of arrows, San Sebastiano tried by Diocletian, Celestial Glory of San Sebastiano Christian Martyr. The perimeter of the nave and the presbytery is distinguished by an elaborate cornice bordered by an artistic enamelled wrought iron railing. The side aisles are accompanied by exceptional works of art, with statues and paintings that alternate throughout the interior of the building.