Church of Santa Chiara (Noto)

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The Church of Santa Chiara in Noto is one of the most beautiful examples of baroque art in the city. By paying a separate entrance fee, it is possible to access the terrace of the church, from where there is a fantastic view of the Cathedral of Noto and the entire skyline. Since 2002 it has been part of the World Heritage Site within the serial site Late Baroque Towns of the Val di Noto.

History of the Church of Santa Chiara of Noto

The church of Santa Chiara in Noto was designed in 1730 by the architect Rosario Gagliardi and completed in 1758. Together with the nearby convent of the Poor Clares, it formed a single complex. The entrance to both buildings was from Corso Vittorio Emanuele. During the nineteenth century, earthworks lowered the level of the street, making it impossible to use the original entrances. They were bricked up, but can still be seen on the elevation. Today the entrance is from via Capponi, through a small staircase built for this purpose. After a long period of restoration, the church was reopened to the public in 2006. The rooms of the former convent of Santa Chiara now house the Noto Civic Museum.

Architecture and works of art in the church of Santa Chiara in Noto

The interior of the Church of Santa Chiara di Noto
The interior of the Church of Santa Chiara di Noto

The church of Santa Chiara in Noto has a single nave and an elliptical plan, inspired by the Roman churches of the 16th and 17th centuries. Along the walls are four polychrome marble altars, almost all from Noto Antica, framed by a pair of columns. The capital of each column supports a pedestal culminating in a statue of a saint. There are twelve sculptures in all, made by the decorator and plasterer Basile. On the left altar there is a splendid Madonna with Child by the sculptor Antonello Gagini, while on the right altar there is a painting of St. Benedict and St. Scholastica by the Palermo painter Salvatore Lo Forte in 1854. Along the right wall of the church you can also see the round openings through which the Poor Clares of the nearby convent attended the services and accompanied them with song.

The cloister of the church

The cloister of the church of Santa Chiara
One of the cloistered rooms of the Church of Santa Chiara

A visit to the church of Santa Chiara in Noto allows the visitor to see not only two beautiful panoramic terraces, but also some of the cloistered rooms. A door on the left side of the church leads to the room of the Eucharist. Here, a small window, directly connected to the high altar, allowed the nuns to receive the host. After a first flight of stairs, one reaches the circular cloistered corridor. The oval openings, visible even from the nave, were covered with special curved iron grids called jellies. This allowed the nuns to attend mass without being seen. The corridor leads to the choir, where the nuns accompanied the mass with their singing.

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