Italy - an ancient country with rich history and culture. In addition, the European boot also extremely picturesque. Old buildings, centuries-old buildings, forcing literally stopping delight, beautiful beaches, mild climate, not greedy of emotion locals - all this and more make Italy attractive for tourists. But one name is impossible to combine the diversity of indigenous cultures, historical heritage and the special charm of individual regions. And today, our view overlooking the very south of Italy - the island of Sicily.
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A bit of history of Sicily
Sicily - a kind of a separate country, a part of Italy. And it is not alone in its location on the mainland - because they are separated by only a narrow Strait of Messina a width of about 3 km. Nor that in Palermo has its own parliament island. But the fact that Sicily has its own special historical path leading her difficult road of conquest and interpenetration of different cultures.
Located at the intersection of trade routes of the Mediterranean, the island since ancient times had a strategic importance. Once Sicily was part of the Great Greece and was called Trinacria, that means triangle: 3 Point, 3 sea 3 archipelago. And the first inhabitants of the island are considered the Iberian tribes Sica, who built the pile at home. Their place was taken by Siculo, then the Phoenicians, who built Palermo and Trapani. Later, the Greeks founded a city such as Catania, Messina, Agrigento and Siracusa - one of the richest Greek settlements. Candidates at the Sicilian land, called "the key to the Mediterranean" were tribes of barbarians and the Byzantines, the Arabs, and, of course, the Romans.
Many inhabitants of these lands were carrying not only destruction, but also brings to the shape of the island has its own customs, culture, architectural features, so now an abundance of monuments, museums and archaeological sites make the island of Sicily peculiar and unlike anything the region, which is part of Italy. Besides being the most southern part of the country, it has a long and attractive for leisure tourist season. Clean sandy beaches and ravishing green citrus and olive groves make the island a real highlight and a lure for travelers.
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What to visit in Sicily
Sicily - the largest island in the Mediterranean Sea. Its area is over 25 thousand square meters. km of territory there are a lot of big cities, so for ease of travel attractions in Sicily can be divided by city, near which they are located.
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The capital region of Palermo
Palermo - the capital of the island of Sicily. This is a great and historic city founded by the Phoenicians and named them Sousse, which translated means flower. Its modern name (Latin sounds like Panormos - "always-harbor") has been received from the Greeks. The combination of different cultures, once dwells in Palermo, there is extensive in nature, making the city even more interesting sights.
The Royal Palace of the Normans
The Royal Palace of the Normans - the main architectural monuments of Palermo, situated on Liberty Square. The elevation at which it is built of old, engaged in one way or another bastion: originally on this site was built by Phoenician Palace, next was a Roman, and after him - Arabic. The last of them - the palace of the emir - was restored and turned into a royal residence of the Normans in the XI-XII centuries. After 3 centuries of neglect the palace was again rebuilt by the Spaniards to their monarchs. Now Norman original interior preserved only in the Hall of Roger. From this royal bedchamber stunning views of the Palatine Chapel and the Gulf of Palermo.
By such attractions as the Palatine Chapel, it is difficult to pass indifferently. Like many other monuments of Sicily, it combines a variety of architectural styles. Palatine Chapel was built in 1143 and decorated with astonishing Byzantine mosaics, temples themselves superior decoration of Constantinople. The special position here takes the image of Christ Pantocrator on the ceiling.
Cathedral of the Assumption
Majesty of the attractions in Palermo has no equal. In place of his earlier buildings, the ancient religious sanctuary. Cathedral of the Assumption of Our Lady was built in 1185 during the reign of the Norman King Wilhelm II. Throughout its long history the cathedral many times restored, slightly changed its original appearance, adding to it the Gothic features. Currently, the church are Norman royal sarcophagi and the remains of patron saint of Palermo - Saint Rosalia.
Admiral Church (Martorana)
Admiral's church was built in the XII century during the reign of King Roger II means Admiral G. Antioch. In 1463 the basilica was transferred to the monastery of Martorana, located next door. Combining these two names, the church got its name used to this day. Here are kept rare mosaic made of Constantinople hands of artists.
Grand Opera House Massimo
The theater, built in 1891, was designed by architect Giovanni Battista Filippo Basile. As the main architectural style was chosen neoclassicism. Teatro Massimo is the third-largest theaters in Europe, skipping ahead just Paris and Vienna. His area of 7730 square meters. m can accommodate 3, 5 thousand spectators. Grand Opera House Sicily boasts performances by world celebrities such as Luciano Pavarotti, Enrico Caruso and Maria Callas. Massimo hovers around the legend of sorrowful spirits inhabiting its halls, because when something in its place there was a church and an old graveyard.
Archaeological Museum of the island of Sicily was named after Antonio Salinas. As an archaeologist and numismatist, 6000, he bequeathed his collection to the museum objects, in which the director has worked for over 40 years. The Archaeological Museum is located in XVII century building, formerly served as a religious order, the outlawed, then the building was confiscated by the national museum.
Regional Gallery of Sicily
Regional Gallery is located in the palace Abatellis, built for the head of the port of Palermo in the XV century. Later, there was a monastery. In the middle of the last century building was badly damaged by bombing during the war. It was only in 1953 in a renovated building opened gallery. Here you can find paintings by Renaissance artist Antonello da Messina to admire a large fresco entitled "The Triumph of Death", admire the works of Flemish painters. There is a gallery and sculpture exhibition, as well as samples of ancient works of virtuoso wood carving of the XII century.
Palermo Botanical Garden - is not just a sanctuary under the open sky. It was originally implemented non-standard, and the original idea of combining the national park and a research center of the University city. The garden was created at the end of the XVIII century and is situated on a hill with a wonderful view of the entire city. Several Sicilian architects who worked on the creation of the garden of the building, decorated with its numerous statues, bas-reliefs and statues. In the botanical garden of 10 hectares and there was a place for the aquarium - a large swimming pool with a few aquatic plants. A special place here occupies a greenhouse and Maria Carolina.
Birdwatching Orleans Park, located next to Independence Square, is home to 3,000 birds. It is home to one of Europe's largest collections of parrots, as well-known species as well as rare. Also in the park you can see the unearthly beauty of pink flamingos, herons, elegant, colorful pheasants, pelicans and raptors serious.
Villa Palagonia is located 15 km from Palermo, in the town of Bagheria. The mention of this place can be found in Goethe's and Dumas, because this building is considered one of the quaint buildings of Sicily. Made by architect Tommaso Maria Napoli, the villa is one of the first examples of Baroque Sicily. Its other name - Villa of Monsters. As bizarre request of the owner garden was decorated with sculptures of grotesque monsters humanoid species, of which there are more than 600 pieces. But this strangeness did not end there. Visitors to the villa in the XVIII century mentioned a strange prickly fabric, which are upholstered chairs and sofas, chair legs were different lengths, and the fixtures are glued fragments of broken dishes.
The town of Corleone
At some distance from the town of Corleone is Palermo. "The Godfather" of the Sicilian Mafia from the novel by Mario Puzo secured for an island certain associations. But in fact, nothing to do with the town of Corleone Mafia has not, though, and uses its fame to the delight of tourists. Colourful cafés, restaurants and shops are exploiting mafia theme in full force. And the city is famous for its natural formations, excavations, towers and castles, is rightly considered one of the most interesting places for fans of eco-tourism and archeology.
Vucciria Markets and Pescheria
If you want to see a true Sicilian flavor, be sure to go to the local market. In a traditional and atmospheric city market Vucciria can find absolutely everything, and the market Pescheria focuses specifically on fish and seafood.
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The province of Agrigento
Valley of the Temples
Valley of the Temples - a zone of archaeological excavations, which lie in an area of 13,000 hectares and is the object of UNESCO no analogues among Greek complexes. Here are located the grandiose construction VI-V century BC, made in the Doric style. Among them are the Temple of Concordia, Temple of Asclepius, the Temple of Hercules, the tomb of Theron, Temple of Hera, and others. These attractions are gathered in one place is a gem excursions in Agrigento. If you decide to make a trip to the valley of the temples yourself, try to choose the most opportune time: relics of the works up to 19-00, while the other is open all night, illuminating the darkness beautiful lighting.
Monastery of the Holy Spirit
The monastery was built at the end of the XIII century and named Bataranni, which means "great Abbey" for its impressive size. The building was built of sandstone and limestone with the original design of the arches and the nave, decorated with stucco. Currently, this has retained its original appearance of the monument of the Middle Ages is the city museum, where you can see the layout of the center of Agrigento.
The Greek Church of Our Lady
Like many historical and cultural sites on the island of Sicily, the Greek Church of Our Lady has been rebuilt from the Greek-Byzantine cathedral that to a large extent reflected in the facade of the building: there are frescoes of the XIV century and the special charm of Sicilian gothic style.
The cathedral was built in the XI century in honor of St. Gerland. The temple was built at the highest point of Agrigento, and for centuries was repeatedly subjected to destruction because of earthquakes and landslides. As a vivid example of cultural interaction, the cathedral while maintaining the features of Gothic and Baroque, Arab, Norman and Spanish architectural styles.
In addition to churches, monasteries and cathedrals in the region of Agrigento you can visit the archaeological museum, located on the site of the trading area of ancient times.
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Province of Catania
Fountain with a black bishop
Cathedral Square with a fountain with an elephant made of black basalt is the hallmark of the region of Catania. On the back of an elephant Egyptian obelisk emblazoned with a cross. The origins of this emblem of the city overgrown with legends, but it is known that the mention of the black bishop is in the record, dated 1239 year.
Cathedral of St. Agatha
Instead of the fountain with a black elephant is the Cathedral of St. Agatha, built on the site Akiliana term. In the XI century the church was rebuilt in Baroque style. The cathedral is decorated with frescoes and sculptured bust of St. Agatha. Here is stored reliquary. Once inside the church is the tomb of Vincenzo Bellini - the composer, born in Katanii.Est Catania and other places of interest: for example, you can visit the castle Ursino, where he currently is the city museum or archaeological site of a Roman amphitheater. In addition to architectural objects in Catania it built a modern water park «Etnaland».
The most important place to visit Catania and the whole island of Sicily is Mount Etna. Attractions such that creates the very nature, has always attracted tourists from all over the world. Etna is the highest active volcano in Europe. The last recorded eruption was in January 2011, and its history Etna erupted about 200 times. In ancient times, people have associated the wrath of the volcano with the wars of Greek and Roman mythological creatures: the gods and the Titans. Currently, the area around Etna is recognized as a national park. Visit the volcano as you can with a guided tour, and independently of any of the 3 existing routes. However, be careful, because the volcano is only sleeping, and on its slopes there are semi-active craters, so if you decide to climb it on foot, it is best to enlist the support of an experienced companion.
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Province of Messina
Among the architectural and historical monuments in the region Messina you can visit the church of Santa Maria Annunziata dei Catalani, the Duomo, the Fountain of Orion and the Fountain of Neptune, made by a pupil of Michelangelo, as well as the Regional Museum, where a rich collection of paintings.
Near the town of Taormina occupies a special place the ancient theater, the view from which is called "the panorama of perfection." Also it is possible to visit Naumahiyu, the ruins of which give an idea of them held mock battles of water. Attention should be paid and the Corvaja palace, where now the tourist office, and the Cathedral of San Nicolo, and Badia Vecchia tower. Nature has its own attractions: scenic promontories Capo Sant'Alessio, Capo Sant'Andrea and Capo Taormina.
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Province of Syracuse
The main object of inspection is considered to be a zone of Syracuse archaeological excavations. It includes the Ear of Dionysius - a cleft in the rock with unusual acoustics; Greek Theatre, which has come down to this day, almost without damage, and Roman Amphitheater. In addition, the region has an archaeological museum and the Cathedral of Syracuse.
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Province of Trapani
The main monument of the town is the Sanctuary of the Virgin Mary with a statue of the Madonna and Child. There are in the region and a city museum. The presence of the saltworks and salt museum Trapani distinguished from all other regions of the island of Sicily. And do not forget to visit the town of Marsala - his charm and wineries will not leave you indifferent.
Sicily - an extraordinary place, literally mottled places, with a special flavor and unique nature.
By traveling around the island, do not forget about hats, water, comfortable shoes and sunscreen. Una buona vacanza!