Dedicated to Saint Nicholas (buried in Bari-Italy), Bishop of Myra (Turkey today).

Pope JohnPaul II raised the church to the rank of Minor Basilica on the 6th of February 1980.

The construction of the <DUOMO>, one of the most important and ancient medieval monuments of Taormina, dates back to the XIIIth century. It occupies the area and the ruins of an earlier basilica. It was rebuilt in the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries and restored in the eighteenth century. The interior of this church is a Latin cross with nave, two aisles and three apses. Six columns support the nave; the columns are made with Taormina pink marble and four of them are monolithic (that is, shaped from a single block of marble); they all come from the Greco-roman theatre, located in the town. The nave, aisles and transept (that is, the short arm of the Latin cross) are covered with masterfully carved wooden ceilings, whose beams at the two extremities show corbels with traditional Arabian motifs, re-interpreted in Gothic style. At each side of the main altar are two chapels worthwhile seeing: on the left, the chapel of the Holy Sacrament (end of the XVIIth c.) is clearly baroque, on the right, the one of Our Lady of Graces, rebuilt in 1747 reusing the materials of a demolished Gothic chapel of St. Peter’s in Taormina. In the façade, between two fifteenth-century ogival windows, we find the main portal, rebuilt in 1636 according to the decision taken by the local administrators of the time, as it is shown on the slab of marble above the door, where we can read the following Latin sentence: <D.O.M. Divo Nicolao templi Patrono Portam e phario lapide Franciscus Corvaja, Joseph Martianus Antoninus Romanus, Thomas Corvaja Urbis patres postere AN. DO. MDCXXXVI>. (Francesco Corvaja, Giuseppe Marziano, Antonino Romano, Tommaso Corvaja, the Fathers of the City, erected the gate of this (Christian) temple with white marble, in honour of God the Best and Most High, and of the Patron Saint Nicholas, in the year of the Lord 1636). At each side of the main entrance there are two fluted columns in Corinthian style rising from high bases, and over the lintel there is a broken pediment; above the capitals of the Corinthian columns the faces of two little angels “peep out”. Each doorjamb bears eleven carved figures. Some of these twenty-two personages can be easily recognised by the symbol or iconic motif associated with their lives: Saint Peter by the keys of Paradise, saint Paul by the sword of Faith, king David by the cither, and the four evangelists: Saint Luke (the Bull), Saint John (the Eagle), Saint Matthew (the Angel), Saint Mark (the Lion); the identification of the others inserted in medallions is not so evident. At the top of each side of the marble frame there are two blessing bishops with mitre and pastoral. They are Saint Nicholas, the Titular Saint of the church and Saint Pancras, Taormina’s Patron Saint. The side portals belong to different periods of time. The one facing East is of the first half of the XVIth century, the other looking West, facing the Town Hall, is of the second half of the XVth c., and is fully lined with porous lava stone. On each jamb, we can see very refined bas-reliefs representing the mystical Vine. ([1] I am the true vine and my Father is the vinedresser. [2] Every branch in me that bears no fruit He cuts away, and every branch that does bear fruit He prunes to make it bear even more. Jn 15:1-2). On the architrave, between St. Peter and St. Paul, there is Jesus Christ the “Pantocrator”, the Almighty. The architrave is made with Taormina stone; the pointed tympanum above is decorated with trilobated arcs. The Basilica is also adorned with three rose windows, located respectively on the façade and on the two flanks, and they look very much alike in their Renaissance architectural design.

The medieval character of “our” fortified church <ecclesia munita> is revealed by the imposing military watchtower -on which the bells were placed in 1750- and emphasized by the severe battlements, crowning the entire building.

From 1945 to 1948, the church was fully restored by the Neapolitan architect Armando Dillon, who strengthened the whole structure and brought to light the primitive structures of the arches of the apses, hidden with baroque stuccos. He also entirely rebuilt the original roof terraces on the aisles.

The skilful restoration brought the sacred monument back to its former architectural beauty.