New comers to Messina's Piazza Duomo, cannot but admire its fountain, the evocative bell tower and the splendid Norman Cathedral. The Fountain of Orion, created in celebration of the city's first aqueduct, dates from 1500 and was by Giovanni Angelo Montorsoli, a collaborator and disciple of Michaelangelo. This splendid classical fountain represents four rivers, the Nile, Tiber, Ebro and the Canaro. The upper cistern is decorated with lines of latin verse, and is crowned with Orion, mythical founder of Messina.
Left of the Duomo the monument to the Immaculate Madonna, originally in another spot but since relocated to the piazza in 1900.
The broad façade of the Duomo dominates the scene; originally commissioned by the Normans, and rebuilt after the Saracens desecrated it. Consecrated by the Swabians, it was embellished and cared for over the centuries, till it was finally destroyed by the devastating earthquake of 1908. Only fragments of the original walls now remain.
Its reconstruction in 1919 was conducted to adhere both to the original Norman model, but with various additions from later periods. Thus Renaissance, Baroque and decorations right up to the 1900's may be admired there. The statues, mosaics and marbles are almost all copies, as the originals were sadly lost.
The distinctive façade, decorated with coloured bands, adorned with marble and reliefs of the fourteenth century depicts everyday events of fourteenth century life, from cultivating the fields to domestic living. The three entrances to the cathedral are Gothic.
The upper level of the façade is in bicolored stone.
The interior of the church has been almost completely restored, with earthquakes in mind: the twenty four columns dividing the nave into Isles, are cement, coated in fake marble, designed to sustain the shock of tremors without further serious damage.
The imposing bell tower also constructed in 1900, rises to the left of the Duomo's façade, and for those willing to scale its heights, affords a splendid view from the top.
Every side of the square tower is decorated with a gleaming clock face. Other decorative dials indicate the signs of the zodiac and the annual calendar with golden mechanical figures which move at the striking of midday.