Grammichele (Catania) was restored at the behest of the prince of Butera, Carlo Maria Carafa, a scholar, patron, lover of science and the arts. He laid the first stone a few weeks after the horrible earthquake of 1693 that completely destroyed the nearby town of Occhiolà, the ruins of which can still be visited.
Its beautiful hexagonal piazza, the heart of the city, is well known and studied in faculties of architecture and by the most distinguished urban planners, as is the entire system that radiates around it. The centre is occupied by a huge monumental bronze statue by the Turkish artist Murat Cura, an integral part of a sundial built by following the advice of Professor Giovanni Brinch, which depicts a man on his knees, wrapped in a series of circles that recall the ancient armillary sphere that imprisons him in his time.
The layout of the city, which is defined as “exagonum“, was outlined according to a design by the Prince himself, with the help of the architect Brother Michele da Ferla, on a slate slab that is still preserved in the City Palace. After having helped the population brought to its knees by the earthquake, Carlo Maria Carafa laid the first stone with a great ceremony in the presence of nobles and religious figures on 18 April 1693. The Palazzo Comunale, designed by Carlo Sada in 1896, overlooks the large hexagonal square, which houses an excellent small archaeological museum, and the spectacular church of San Michele, whose construction was financed by the Prince of Butera’s heirs.
A bronze statue of the Prince of Butera welcomes visitors to Grammichele’s beautiful hexagonal piazza. The work is positioned on a base consisting of a series of steps that symbolise the virtues of knowledge: philosophy, religion, science, politics, writing and art.
The monument is intended to honour Carafa’s love for knowledge. The artist, Paolo Guarrera, wanted to represent the founder as he goes down the stairs to reach the heart of the city. We can see that his left leg seems to rest on Occhiolà, followed by a void that symbolises the earthquake and represents a past that can no longer return, while the right leg is already extended to the descent towards the new city that represents the new beginning. At the foot of the staircase, a bronze plaque bears the edict that the Prince issued when the first stone was laid.