Church of Santa Maria
Church Of Santa Maria Of Maniace, typical basilica
church, is included in the volumes disposition of the Nelson
Rose together with the Benedictine abbey about
1173 on the ruins of a Basilian pre-existent building,
wanted by the Queen Margherita, to lasting memory of the battle
won by Giorgio Maniace against the Saracens.
As it was done
at the time, the abbey and the church came provided with a
castle or defensive tower.
The church can be accessed from a
little courtyard set between the principal façade and the arcade
portion of the Dukedom.
The left prospect in the median part of
the perimeter is visible only externally.
The side prospects are
characterized by Gothic windows with splay modeled in brick and
elements worked in lava stone.
On the rear prospect are visible
the ogival arches linked to the apse parts. Splendid example of
Norman architecture, with a precious portal in limestone and
three naves supported by mighty pillars in lava stone, inside
contains pictures of big value, between which a Gothic tripthic.
The most complete testimony of how a church had to be until the XVII
century is of Giovanni Angelo De Cocchis which visited the monastery
about 1741 and took a few testimonies given by other visitors again
in 1579, before the terrible earthquake of 1693.
The monastery had
a big tower attached to east at the apse of the church.
inside was giving origin to a big arch at the center and to
two smaller ones in correspondence of the two secondary naves.
devastating earthquake of 1693 struck ew1ly the eastern side
of the monastery structure. Destroyed the big tower of defense
attached to the apse of the church and the apse itself (whose
remains are today visible, having been brought to light by the
excavations made inside the granary).
From 1693 until the
first years 1800, when it was restructured and deeply changed by the
Nelson heirs, the church remained in a ruinous state.
The Gotic portal
wonderful Gothic portal, which is worth becoming a national
monument, is work of great artistic value going back, probably, at
the first years of the foundation of the abbey.
disposition of volumes follows the nervous modulation of the bases
on which it is set up. The frame is adorned with several cordons,
big and small, vaguely shaped and jutting out. Three of the
moldings plants reproduce big sea cables. Two groups of side
smooth and round little columns, of sandstone, marble and granite,
support the big arch.
The capitals which connect the structure have a stylistic form which sends again to analogous works executed in Monreale, seat of the Episcopal jurisdiction.
The sculpted figures are little caryatids leaning on
splendid basins adorned with acanthus leaves worked to embroidery.
Depict scenes of the world creation, but also scenes whose
interpretation remains very mysterious (like the woman's bodies
mingled with monstrous beings), in spite of the precise
Benedetto Radice made.