Modica: the city of a hundred churches
It is known as the city of a hundred churches because of the hundreds of religious buildings in the area. We are talking about Modica, a town of over 50000 inhabitants, which lays about 15 kilometers far from Ragusa. Together with Ragusa, Modica represents one of the richest cities of historical-cultural examples related to the baroque and late baroque period. In 2002 it was included in the list of UNESCO World Heritage cities.
Its particular geographic conformation meant that the city was divided into three parts: Modica Sorda, Modica Alta and Modica Bassa. Modica Sorda is the most recent and represents the commercial district composed mainly of shops, Modica Alta, on the contrary, it is mainly made up of old houses and few commercial activities. The old town is known as Modica Bassa, which, before the twentieth century, was nothing but a stretch crossed by two rivers (Ianni Mauro and Pozzo dei Prun).
It is above all in Modica Bassa that it is possible to admire the numerous palaces, monuments and buildings of the city. Walking in narrow streets, among small houses and long staircases you can lose yourself and discover a unique cultural heritage.
The historical, cultural, economic importance of Modica dates back to 1200 when the County of Modica was born, one of the most important feuds of the South that had the command of the territory of Ragusa and the entire province. The symbol of what was a great political and administrative empire is the Castle of the Counts of Modica, built on the highest point of the city, on a rocky promontory.
Walking through the streets of Modica Bassa, and raising your eyes up, you can admire the Clock Tower, emblem of the ancient city of Modica. Following Corso Umberto I, the main street of the city, you can see on the right the Church of Carmine, a mix of late Gothic Chiaramonte style, with its rose window on the facade, and Baroque, as the upper part of the church and Bell tower. Continuing a little further we arrive at Piazza del Municipio where we find Palazzo San Domenico, the Municipality, which was a convent in 1400.
Before continuing straight on at the crossroads, take via Marchese Tedeschi to the Church of Santa Maria di Betlem, a union of four small churches dating back to the 14th-15th centuries. Go back and take Corso Umberto again. A few steps away, on the left, you will find the Palazzo della Cultura, a building containing a museum with relevant archaeological rests, a room dedicated to Salvatore Quasimodo and the Modica Chocolate Museum. Leaving the Palazzo della Cultura, almost opposite, the mother church of the city stands majestically: the Church of St. Peter. At the end of a long staircase and enriched by the statues of the twelve apostles we arrive at the façade in Sicilian Baroque style.
Lose yourself in the alleys around the Church of San Pietro and you will come across the many religious buildings like the Church of San Nicolo Inferiore (Via Clemente Grimaldi). Going up the staircase, first right and then left, you will reach the Birthplace of Salvatore Quasimodo, Nobel Prize for literature.
Go back, continue the stairs, cross a small underpass, continue along Corso San Giorgio, arriving at the Cathedral of San Giorgio, the symbol of the Sicilian baroque.
The advice is to get lost in the alleys of the city because it is only in this way that you will really anjoy the city of Modica.
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