It is one of the most evocative works of Sicilian Baroque. Going up the XXV Aprile course, the visitor comes across the Cathedral of San Giorgio in Ragusa Ibla. This stands very high above the square. However, the church does not have a regular position with respect to the square below: its central axis is, in fact, slightly rotated with respect to the line resulting from the extension of the square, which is not perfectly aligned with the road axes. In this way the observer who enters the piazza duomo can see the church in its three dimensions and admire even its dome. From an architectural point of view, the structure diverges from the classical Sicilian one: in style it is very close to the North European churches, in particular English: the scheme of the bell cell on the façade is decisive.
2 - Portal of San Giorgio
The Portal of San Giorgio is the symbol of the city of Ragusa, one of the last architectural remains that survived the great earthquake of 1693 that devastated the whole of eastern Sicily. The ancient church of San Giorgio in Ragusa Ibla received the utmost attention from Count Goffredo (who died in 1120) who modified, enlarged and enriched the original church both in the architectural aspects and in the furnishings. The large portal of San Giorgio was originally part of a much more complex structure, an ancient church dedicated to the patron saint of Ragusa and built starting from 1349 to replace an ancient temple considered unsuitable for the exaltation of its figure. The monument is built in Gothic-Catalan style and dates back to the fourteenth century. The Church at the time had to present itself majestic and richly decorated. The interior probably conserved three aisles separated by seven columns each and twelve altars. Today the Portal of San Giorgio is no longer used as an entrance to the magnificent temple, collapsed due to the powerful earthquake but it is wedged between two buildings of 1800, and protected by an iron gate and is one of the most famous symbols of the city of Ragusa. The monument is decorated by a bundle of six columns on a raised base with multiple leafy capitals. From this part another series of six columns that support the entire structure. In the center there is a "lunette" where inside is depicted San Giorgio on horseback that impales a dragon and frees Princess Berito. On the side, inside two lozenges, two Aragonese eagles are depicted, symbol of the Royal family that governed the Island.
3 - Museum of the Cathedral of San Giorgio
On display in the museum of one of the cathedrals of Ragusa, the Cathedral of San Giorgio, in the historic center of Ragusa Ibla, we find a collection of sacred objects and especially the religious and social history of Ragusa of the last centuries. The Museum, built in the rooms next to the church, and partly in the ancient rectory, does not have the classical modern museum spaces but is articulated on several floors, with exhibition spaces organized along a path that winds through specific sections linked their. Within each section the exposure criterion adopted was the chronological one. The museum preserves the remains of the catastrophic earthquake of 1693 that struck the Val di Noto.
4 - Church of Santa Maria of the Stairways
According to a local tradition, without any documentary references, the church of Santa Maria of the Stairways was built by the Cistercian monks of the abbey of Santa Maria di Roccadia di Lentini, in the first half of the thirteenth century. To be honest, the church is still existing at the beginning of the fourteenth century. It is of considerable importance from an architectural point of view, as it retains an entire nave and numerous Gothic stone remains that recall the architectural style of the city before the destruction of the earthquake of 1693. The earthquake did not seriously damage the church, nevertheless in the second half of the eighteenth century, also due to the increase in population, the building was enlarged and largely rebuilt.
5 - Church of Santa Maria of Itria
The origins of the church of Itria, located in the heart of the ancient Jewish district of the "Cartellone", are ancient, certainly Byzantine. The cult of the Madonna dell'Itria is in fact of Byzantine memory: the veneration of the image of the Madonna dell'Itria (from the Greek Odygitria, meaning the path) in this place, soon led to the dedication and dedication of this church to the Virgin . As for the current church was built for the will of the "Sovereign Military Order of Malta" and belonged to the Order of Jerusalem from 1629 to 1639. Next to this structure there was a hospitium, the Hospital of San Giuliano, a place to welcome travelers and sick; for this reason today in the church is venerated, in addition to the cult of the Madonna dell'Itria, also the cult of San Giuliano. The earthquake of 1693 completely destroyed the religious building, therefore, afterwards, the structure was only retouched and expanded with elements in Baroque style. It was completed in 1740.
6 - Ibleo Garden
The beautiful villa of Ragusa Ibla was built in 1858 on the initiative of some local notables, to which a large part of the people contributed that provided free their work. It rose on a spur of rock that overlooks the valley; Once upon a time it was possible to enter through a magnificent avenue flanked by numerous and flourishing palms, reserved for carriages, and through a parallel avenue, the avenue of the little columns, reserved for pedestrians. It is very well cared for and richly adorned with well-carved benches, columns with stone vases carved in different shapes and an elegant balcony with elegant limestone fencing. The monument to the fallen of the Great War is impressive in the center of the villa. Inside the villa are the Church of San Vincenzo Ferreri, the Church of San Giacomo and the Chiesa dei Cappuccini.
7 - Church of San Giuseppe and Monastery of the Benedictines
It stands on the current Piazza Pola, on the site where the Church of San Tommaso was built, destroyed by the earthquake of 1693. It is attributed to Gagliardi and constitutes, together with the Church of San Giorgio, one of the greatest expressions of Sicilian baroque. It is part of an extensive architectural complex comprising the adjoining Benedictine Monastery, which looks out back into via Torrenuova, and the old Palazzo Comunale, seat of the city administration until 1926, once part of the monastic building. Before the earthquake the Church was certainly annexed to the Monastery, perhaps dedicated to St. Benedict, the reconstruction was planned on the site of the nearby Church of St. Thomas that was completely destroyed.
The Benedictine Monastery rose around 1500 for the munificence of the Baron of Buscello, originally from Noto, who, also in accordance with his wife's wills, transformed the palace where he lived in the Convent. After the earthquake, which destroyed almost the entire building, the current resurged, including precisely the buildings of the Church of San Tommaso and the annexes; over the years part of the complex was sold to private individuals and to the Municipality, which in fact established its headquarters there.
8 - Church Most Holy Souls in Purgatory
It is located in Ragusa Ibla in Piazza della Repubblica, better known as Piazza degli Archi, because of the arches of an aqueduct that surmounted the neighborhood until the earthquake of 1693, from which the church came out unscathed. It was built on the initiative of the Mazza family in the second half of the seventeenth century, dedicated to All Saints and Souls of Purgatory and open to worship on May 6, 1658.
9 - Conversation circle
The Circle of Conversation of Ragusa was built in 1805, when four of the most notable families of Ragusa Ibla decided to give themselves a place to meet and converse, in fact, remote and isolated from the rest of the people. It is a single-storey building in neoclassical style, practically unadorned - despite its columns and bas-reliefs - in comparison with the magnificent baroque that surrounds it. But it is not the structure of the building that is interesting, rather what the masonry hides, namely the convolutions (these so baroque!) Of social relations within it. The lilac outer walls hide the large internal hall with walls covered with red damasks, marble floors, a large copper chandelier, a mirror on each wall and four long red sofas: one for each of the founding families. The large room can also be seen from the outside, peering through the windows overlooking the square. Inside you can imagine that the shadows of the gattopardiani characters are still around. An English club set in southern Sicily maintains the exclusivity and confidentiality of its model. The large red room, seen close up, is even more opulent and welcoming, and you can also see the shape of the hydraulic mechanism that allowed to lift a small portion of the roof, to allow the smoke to escape. At the time of the construction of the club, it was not allowed to smoke in public places!
10 – La Rocca Palace
La Rocca Palace of Sant'Ippolito is a monument recognized by UNESCO. This typical 18th century house is located in Via Capitano Bocchieri opposite the right side of the Duomo, from number 31 to 39, and today is the headquarters of the Provincial Tourism Company. The building is in an excellent state of conservation and has modest alterations; a good restoration makes it fully responsive to the functions to which it is today called. It seems that the foundations of the north wall are resting on the remains of part of the castle walls. The building in its current form is certainly a post-earthquake (with the construction of the nearby church of San Giorgio and the continuation of the Piancata); the old base can be seen below the entrance hall, where there are three doors with pointed arch, one to the east and two to the north. With a rectangular but irregular plan, it stands out for its important and long Baroque façade, delimited in the central part by two pilasters and at the top by a continuous cornice. This area contains the main entrance gate and four balconies of the eight present in the façade; these are supported by corbels with high reliefs representing different themes. Each balcony has thus taken a name depending on the theme developed: proceeding from the Cathedral there is first the balcony of the Cherubim, then that of Telamone, Amorini, Fantesca, the Mandolin player and the Flute player, the last is that of the Knight.