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On the island of Ortygia, the cathedral sits on the same site a temple in honour of Athena was erected by Gelo in 5th century BC. The temple had been as a commemorative monument to the battle of Himera, in which the allied forces of Gelo and Theron of Aggrigento defeated Hamilcar ‘s Carthaginian force.

The temple of Athena whose base had three steps, followed the Doric style where 6 columns stood on the short side and 14 columns on the long side. The columns are still recognizable on the walls of the cathedral. In 7th century Bishop Zosimo had the cathedral constructed.

The building features a nave and two aisles, the roof of the nave and the mosaic in the apses belong to the Norman times. Between 1725 and 1753 Andrea Palma devoted himself to rebuilding the cathedral’s façade. A double row of Corinthians columns and sculptures by Ignazio Marabitti were placed on the façade to decorate it.

The interior displays some splendid pieces that have stood over the centuries, earthquakes and bombs. There is a font with marble basin dating back to 12th or 13th century and a silver statue of St. Lucy by Pietro Rizzo (1599). Visitors will be able to admire a ciborium by Luigi Vanvitelli and a statue of the Madonna della Neve ("Madonna of the Snow", 1512) by Antonello Gagini.