Messina Cathedral and the astronomical clock

The Cathedral of Messina or Il Duomo, like most other Cathedrals of major Sicilian cities, is iconic for its design and historical past. It is yet again atypical in traditional Italian design due to major cultural influences from foreigners who have passed through this marvelous island. What makes it unique above the other Sicilian Cathedrals is the astronomical bell tower beside it.

File:Messina duomo 2.JPG - Wikimedia Commons

The Messina Cathedral has endured some painful pasts such as being destroyed by a fire in 1254 and undergoing an improved reconstruction with a marble façade, mosaics and painted ceilings. It made it to the Baroque European period in the 17th century and was beautified further with cherubs, cornices, garlands and other motifs. In 1783, the bell tower was destroyed by natural disasters common to Messina and replaced by two gothic styled bell towers. Unfortunately it was in 1908 where yet again, another earthquake destroyed all of those improvements from the ages. The cathedral we see today is not the original standing church built in Byzantine times but a rebuilt version similar to the Norman style cathedral of 1197.

Nonetheless, the Messina Cathedral is standing strong and despite having most of its statues and mosaics as replicas of the original, it is still a glorifying tribute to this city and of course Christianity. Apostle Paul had supposedly visited Messina in 42 AD to spread Christianity to the Sicilian region. After the Messinese paid tribute to the Virgin Mary, a letter was given to them from the Madonna for protection of the town. Thus, the Cathedral is dedicated to the Madonna of the Letter.

Messina Cathedral and Belltower, highlights of your visit to Messina in  Sicily

The clock tower besides the Cathedral holds the largest astronomical clock in the world. It is also the most complex mechanical clock in the world. This new and revamped clock tower was built in the early 1930s by the firm Ungerer of Strasbourg and attempts to replicate the original design. Today it is the town’s major tourist attraction. To view its magic one must visit at midday and stand in the piazza in front of the Cathedral. Lasting 12 minutes, you want to ensure you don’t miss this exquisite display of counterweights, leverages and gears – every watch lover’s heaven.

Astronomical Clock in Messina, Italy - Encircle Photos

You will see various bronze statues emerge and move around on the balustrades of the tower. If you want to get closer to the action, feel free to climb the bell tower and watch from the inside-out. What you see are various biblical stories, astronomical legends and the patron saint of the city, Madonna of the Letter. The clock, in fact, moves in perfect harmony and symbolizes man’s soul in seeking God. What we can’t see is that the 16 parts of the clock are in a cross design.

To end the show, take in the breath-taking views of the strait of Messina from above.

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