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Mazara del Vallo

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Mazara del Vallo

The historic town of Mazara del Vallo is located on the southwestern coast of Sicily, directly overlooking the Mediterranean Sea at the closest point with the African coast, which is only 200 km from there.

The proximity to Tunisia has resulted in a strong Arabic-Norman influence that is already noticeable in the narrow streets of the city center, closely resembling those of the Arabic medinas, or in the old town enclosed by ancient Norman walls, the many churches and monuments and the old Arab quarter, the Kasbah.

The Kasbah is a magical place, where all of a sudden you find yourself catapulted into Morocco or some other Arab country. Local artists fill the narrow streets with colorful paintings, and the walls of the houses are decorated with colorful ceramics and majolica that create an amazing visual effect.

The beauty of Mazara del Vallo is not just in its history, art and culture but also in the natural environment by which it is surrounded The turquoise water of the Mediterranean Sea that washes its coastline is in fact dotted with splendid beaches, both well equipped or more natural, such as Tonnarella beach, the rocky Quarara and the natural preserve of Capo Feto: an ecosystem abundant in vegetation and wildlife, but also a paradise for kite surf lovers.

Lastly, the Nature Preserve of Gorghi Tondi, nestled in the hinterland surrounding the Mazara area, is an uncontaminated, evocative habitat and a symbol of the most authentic Sicily. It is a natural oasis managed and protected by the WWF, dotted with 4 small freshwater lakes, which is home to various protected species of plants and animals. In addition to the variety of nature trails that stretch across it, the preserve offers birding trails and the opportunity to observe the bird species that find refuge in this sanctuary, such as herons, mallards or marsh harriers.

Dancing Satyr Museum

Pattern - La Piscina

A visit to the Dancing Satyr Museum, housed in the church of Sant’Egidio, is not to be missed. The museum is named after the most prestigious art piece it houses, the Dancing Satyr.

The statue, just over 2 meters tall and weighing 96 kg, was found in the spring of 1998 during a fishing trip in the Sicilian channel. A very rare example of a Greek bronze statue.

In addition to this precious and unique bronze statue, the museum houses other archaeological remains recovered from the sea such as pottery and bronze pieces. Inside the museum visitors can also admire other archaeological evidence of excavations and research campaigns carried out in the waters off the coast of Mazara del Vallo.

IRRESISTIBLE

Mazara del Vallo is also known as the “city of a hundred churches”; it is unclear whether in the distant past the city actually hosted such a large number of Christian temples, what is certain is that many of these have preserved their beauty and majesty over the centuries.

These include:

Cattedrale del Santissimo Salvatore

The Cathedral of the Holy Savior, also known as the Mother Church, is the most important religious building in the city of Mazara. It was built on the ruins of a previous place of worship built by the Arabs during their rule in the city at the request of the Grand Count Roger I, to fulfill a vow he made during the victorious battle against the Saracens in 1072.

At the end of the fifteenth century the building underwent an important restoration, during which it acquired a monumental facade and a library housing ancient texts of Greek and Latin classic literature. The most significant renovation, however, took place between the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, and completely transformed the building into one of the most elegant and prestigious Baroque cathedral in Sicily.

Pattern - Il Sole

Chiesa di San Francesco

The Church of San Frances, initially built by the Grand Count Ruggero I d’Altavilla in the second half of the eleventh century

and then renovated in the last years of the seventeenth century, when the building underwent substantial alterations to bring its features closer to the Baroque style, which in those years was rapidly spreading throughout Sicily.

Pattern - Il Sole

Chiesa di Sant’Ignazio

The Jesuits who lived in the Mazara area built the Church of St. Ignatius, with its peculiar oval shape, in 1701.

After its collapse in 1933, all that remains visible today is the baroque facade made of carving stone.

Pattern - Il Sole

Chiesa di San Nicolò Regale

The Church of San Nicolò Regale, built between 1130 and 1154 during the reign of Roger II, was built to a square plan and has three apses surmounted by a cubic dome.

Between the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries the church underwent a radical transformation to adapt it to the new baroque principles, and was rebuilt to an octagonal plan with a pitched roof. In 1947 an attempt was made to restore the church to its original forms, but it was only in the 1980s that this jewel of Arab-Norman art regained its original medieval features.

Pattern - Il Sole

Chiesa di San Vito a mare

The Church of San Vito a Mare was built in 1776 on the ruins of an ancient Norman church and has a very simple design. It is believed that it was built in honor of young S. Vito di Mazara on the actual cliff from which he embarked for Rome, to face martyrdom and death.

A visit to the Dancing Satyr Museum, housed in the church of Sant’Egidio, is not to be missed. The museum is named after the most prestigious art piece it houses, the Dancing Satyr.

The statue, just over 2 meters tall and weighing 96 kg, was found in the spring of 1998 during a fishing trip in the Sicilian channel. A very rare example of a Greek bronze statue.

In addition to this precious and unique bronze statue, the museum houses other archaeological remains recovered from the sea such as pottery and bronze pieces. Inside the museum visitors can also admire other archaeological evidence of excavations and research campaigns carried out in the waters off the coast of Mazara del Vallo.

Pattern - Il Sole
Not only Art & Culture

The beauty of Mazara del Vallo is not just in its history, art and culture but also in the natural environment by which it is surrounded The turquoise water of the Mediterranean Sea that washes its coastline is in fact dotted with splendid beaches, both well equipped or more natural, such as Tonnarella beach, the rocky Quarara and the natural preserve of Capo Feto: an ecosystem abundant in vegetation and wildlife, but also a paradise for kite surf lovers.

Lastly, the Nature Preserve of Gorghi Tondi, nestled in the hinterland surrounding the Mazara area, is an uncontaminated, evocative habitat and a symbol of the most authentic Sicily. It is a natural oasis managed and protected by the WWF, dotted with 4 small freshwater lakes, which is home to various protected species of plants and animals. In addition to the variety of nature trails that stretch across it, the preserve offers birding trails and the opportunity to observe the bird species that find refuge in this sanctuary, such as herons, mallards or marsh harriers.

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12° 38' 38.21" E / 37° 41' 42.17" N
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