©2020 Heiner Sträßer
In the centre of Catania lies the Cathedral Square, Piazza Duomo, which naturally is in front of the Cathedral. Its origins lie in the 11th century, when the Normans built a fortified church. This building was destroyed by an earthquake in 1693 and then rebuilt as a baroque church. However, the square is dominated by the elephant fountain Fontana dell'Elefante. An elephant sculpture from Roman times made of black lava carries an Egyptian obelisk with hieroglyphics on its back. Like the cathedral, the fountain collapsed in 1693, but the elephant and obelisk were rescued from the ruins and in 1736 the master builder Giovanni Battista Vaccarini used them in a new fountain. The elephant became the symbol of the city, which the locals affectionately call Liotru.