Sicilian Baroque

Sicilian Baroque is the distinctive form of Baroque architecture that took hold on the island of Sicily, off the southern coast of Italy, in the 17th and 18th centuries. The style is recognizable not only by its typical Baroque curves and flourishes, but also by its grinning masks and putti and a particular flamboyance that has given Sicily a unique architectural identity.

The Sicilian Baroque style came to fruition during a major surge of rebuilding following the massive earthquake in 1693. Previously, the Baroque style had been used on the island in a naïve and parochial manner, having evolved from hybrid native architecture rather than being derived from the great Baroque architects of Rome. After the earthquake, local architects, many of them trained in Rome, were given plentiful opportunities to recreate the more sophisticated Baroque architecture that had become popular in mainland Italy; the work of these local architects — and the new genre of architectural engravings that they pioneered — inspired more local architects to follow their lead. Around 1730, Sicilian architects had developed a confidence in their use of the Baroque style. Their particular interpretation led to further evolution to a personalised and highly localised art form on the island. From the 1780s onwards, the style was gradually replaced by the newly-fashionable neoclassicism.

The highly decorative Sicilian Baroque period lasted barely fifty years, and perfectly reflected the social order of the island at a time when, nominally ruled by Spain, it was in fact governed by a wealthy and often extravagant aristocracy into whose hands ownership of the primarily agricultural economy was highly concentrated. Its Baroque architecture gives the island an architectural character that has lasted into the 21st century.

Read more about Sicilian BaroqueCharacteristics, Early Sicilian Baroque, High Sicilian Baroque, Church Interiors, Palazzi Interiors, Final Period, Legacy, Notable Architects of Sicilian Baroque

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