The cathedral of San Nicolà is the most important place of worship in Noto and it is dedicated to San Nicolò of Mira. The building was the mother church of the city until 1844, when the Diocese of Noto was found, and it later became the seat of the bishop.
Construction works started in 1693, but because of the many earthquakes that followed across the centuries the building suffered further damages and it underwent more architectural modifications.
The current structure is partly the result of the last works designed by architect Bernardo Labisi and completed only in the nineteenth century.
In 1848 the dome collapsed and then reconstructed under the responsibility of engineer Cassone. The building was completed in 1862 while internal decorations were completed in 1959.
Due to the Santa Lucia earthquake, which struck part of the Noto Valley on December 13, 1990, the pillars supporting the dome suffered other damages. On March 13, 1996 the dome collapsed, as well as the central and the right side naves as a result of a construction deficiency. The church was finally reopened on June 18, 2007.
On January 21, 2012 Pope Benedetto XVI elevated the church to the rank of minor basilica.
The façade, flanked by slender lateral towers, represents an example of late baroque style in the Noto Valley, in which there are also some eclectic elements and it can be distinguished a marked neoclassical inspiration.
The church has a Latin cross plan with three naves and it was once decorated with frescoes made by painters Bandinelli and Arduino: unfortunately decorations were lost in 1996. Today, the church has ample white spaces with baroque interior decorations.
The first chapel at the bottom of the right nave houses a precious sixteenth-century silver ark, called the “Holy Ark”, made by Claudio Lo Paggio from Lyon, and containing the remains of Corrado Confalonieri, the patron of the city.
In the same nave visitors can see an oil on canvas painting depicting the “Immaculate with Holy Martyrs”, of the eighteenth century, plus another one with the Delivery of the Keys to San Pietro made by Giuseppe Patania in 1827. There are also stucco decorations and sculptures of Santa Lucia and Sant’Agata made by Enzo Assenza in 1924.
The chapel at the end of the left nave is dedicated to the Blessed Sacrament and it is decorated with fine stucco and gilded friezes made by sculptors Giuliano from Palazzolo and Senia from Noto. The apse houses a wooden choir, the marble coat of arms of Bishop Angelo Calabretta and behind that there is the triptych with paintings of the mid XIX century representing San Nicolò, in the middle, then San Corrado, on the left, and San Guglielmo, on the right.
Bishop Angelo Calabretta was buried on a grave located at the right side of the nave, while on the left are buried the bishops Mirone and Vizzini.
Among the works made following the collapse of 1996, it is noteworthy the fresco in the apse depicting Christ Pantocrator. The painting, made by Bruno d’Arcevia, represents Christ while defeating the death, flanked on the right by San Giovanni Battista and on the left by the Virgin Mary.
Progetto finanziato con risorse di cui al Progetto d'Eccellenza "Culto e cultura - Itinerari di turismo religioso" di cui alla L- 296/2006 art. 1 c. 1228.
TOURIST PACKAGE CONTRACT (Aut. Regione Sicilia N.3743/S. 7 Tur del 22.02.2017)