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Caltanissetta Cathedral – Cathedral of Santa Maria la Nova

The cathedral of Caltanissetta, located in the historic center of the city, was built between the years 1560-1620 and was opened to the public in 1622. It was named in this way to distinguish it from the Mother Church, built in the sixteenth century at the foot of the Pietrarossa fortress, and which was consequently nicknamed “la Vetere”. Inside there is the Chair of the Bishop of the Diocese of Caltanissetta.

Holy Spirit Abbey

The abbey was commissioned by Count Ruggero and built on an ancient Arab farmhouse which in turn was probably built on a cult building that already existed in the Byzantine era, dedicated to the Holy Spirit. The church, consecrated in 1153, has remarkable artistic elements, such as the baptismal font and the numerous frescoes that cover the internal walls.

The interior, built according to the late Baroque taste, has side chapels inside which are placed the canvases of the Palermitan painter Vito D’Anna, executed between 1752 and 1756.

On the sides of the main altar there are two valuable statues of the Serpottian school from the end of the 18th century, depicting Faith with a helmet and Charity. Finally, on the main altar it is possible to admire the statue of the Immaculate Conception.

Church of Sant’Agata al Collegio

The church of Sant’Agata al Collegio was built between 1600 and 1610 on a pre-existing church, also dedicated to Sant’Agata, while the works of the adjoining Jesuit college (from which the church takes its name) began in 1589 and ended only in the second half of the nineteenth century. The church, with a Greek cross layout, is certainly one of the richest in the city. The college now houses the Luciano Scarabelli Municipal Library and the Liceo Musicale.

San Sebastian Church

Built around the sixteenth century as a tribute to the Saint by the population for liberation from the plague, the church of San Sebastiano is located in Piazza Garibaldi, right in front of the Cathedral.

The church was resized and restored several times. In 1711, for example, it was modified lengthwise to make way for the square opposite. On that occasion it was embellished both inside and in the main façade. The elegant façade, designed by the architect Pasquale Saetta at the end of the 19th century, is enriched by columns belonging to all three classical orders: the Dorics in the lower part, the Ionics in the center and the Corinthians at the top. There are also mullioned windows and niches in which some statues by the sculptor Biancardi are placed. The sculptures in the central part represent the saints Peter and Paul, while in the upper band, one can admire Saint Sebastian pierced by arrows, placed in memory of his martyrdom.

Church of San Domenico

The church of San Domenico was founded in 1400 after the arrival of the Moncadas in Caltanissetta. The building was built in the center of the Angeli district, where there were no other churches at the time.

The construction of the church is intertwined with the history of the city and of the Moncada family. Antonio Moncada, in fact, in 1458 to inherit his title, had to renounce the cassock and, therefore, as “compensation” for the Dominican order, to which he belonged, he had a church built with an adjoining convent. The church continued to be enriched and improved over time.

The prospectus of the church, convex in the central part and concave laterally, was built, for example, in the seventeenth century, and the precious canvas by the Tuscan Filippo Paladini dates back to the same period, a painting depicting the Madonna del Rosario. This canvas has an important historical as well as artistic value, as there are portraits of the children of Count Francesco Moncada.

Monument to the Redeemer

The monument to the Redeemer is located on the highest peak of Monte San Giuliano, which overlooks all of Caltanissetta. It is a pedestal containing a chapel inside, which begins with a square plan and becomes circular to give adequate support to the statue of the Redeemer.

At the beginning of the 20th century Pope Leo XIII commissioned nineteen monuments to Christ the Redeemer, one in each region of Italy (19 at the time). Among the regions that responded to the Pope’s appeal was Sicily, which chose the summit of Monte San Giuliano, in the heart of the island, as the site for the erection of the monument. The project was entrusted to the architect Ernesto Basile, son of Giovan Battista Filippo Basile (the architect of the Teatro Massimo in Palermo).

Church of Santa Maria degli Angeli

The church of Santa Maria degli Angeli (called the Vetere) stands close to the Castello di Pietrarossa, on the northern side of the latter. It was the second parish of the city, which became the parish seat of the city in 1239 and, later, the royal chapel of the Swabian House.

The original name seems to be that of Maria Santissima Assunta, then changed to the current one, following the donation of a painting of the Madonna degli Angeli, now kept in the church of the Collegio di Maria.

St. John’s Church

Located in the oldest part of the historical centre, not far from the church of San Domenico, it was founded around 1100. Completely destroyed during the Second World War, it was rebuilt in 1945. It has a single nave in which there are three side compartments with annexed altars. In the façade made of sandstone, an axis stands out determined by the overlapping of the portal-aedicule-window elements.

The interior of the church, on the other hand, is decorated with frescoes by Pollaci. Among the works present we remember: the Immaculate Conception, a small statue by Biangardi; the wooden St. Joseph made in the eighteenth century and finally a painting of St. Joseph made by Pollaci. In 2008 the Superintendency for Artistic and Cultural Heritage of Caltanissetta carried out restoration works which involved both the interior (conservation of stucco and paintings) and the exterior of the place of worship (construction of a roof with laminated wood trusses) .

College of Mary

Built in the Norman period, after the construction of the abbey of Santo Spirito, it seems to have been consecrated in 1100. Around 1400 the parish was transferred to other churches, due to its small size and, in 1622 it was definitively taken over by the church of Santa Maria la Nova. In 1601, the church of Santa Maria degli Angeli was granted to the Observant Friars Minor who, thanks to the generous offers of the Countess Luisa de Luna y Vega, built their own monastery in 1604. On this occasion, a modernization and enlargement of the ancient church was carried out.

In 1636 the minor convent suffered a partial collapse following which another restoration work was prepared making use of the stones of the nearby castle to restore the collapsed part. A troubled story was also that of the construction of the novitiate, which began in 1688 and was only completed in 1709 due to lack of funds. A further restoration and expansion of the church was carried out from 1740 to 1771, as evidenced by an inscription found in the arch between the apse and the nave and reported by the historian Camillo Genovese from Caltanissetta.

In 1867, during an epidemic, the convent was used as a hospital for cholerosis and later, in 1873, the church was definitively closed for worship, to pass into the ownership of the Ministry of War, which used it as a military barracks and warehouse. This passage marks the beginning of a period of complete abandonment of the church which culminated in the partial collapse of the roof in 1964 and the subsequent construction, in 1972, of a reinforced concrete attic.

Unfortunately, nothing remains of the inside of the building, but we can still admire the typically Norman layout, which consists of a single nave. Furthermore, there are some precious decorative elements on the outside, unfortunately often ruined by overbuilding and inappropriate restoration work.
Worthy of particular note is the main western gate, due to the particular friezes that adorn it: built in sandstone, it has a pointed arch archivolt on three levels, supported by four small cylindrical columns with capitals.