One of the largest in Europe is the monastery complex of San Nicolo L’Arena, located in Catania. It was founded in the XIV century near the old chapel on the slope of Etna. In the XVI century, it was given to the Benedictines, who organized the expansion of buildings - gradually a new church, a monastery courtyard was built, and over time, recovering from the devastating effects of natural disasters, the Benedictines managed to build a grand complex, separated from the city by a wall.
The eastern monastery occupies a large garden surrounded by arcades. The western monastery is the oldest, built on the ruins of a building destroyed in the 16th century, with a large marble fountain in the center. Between the two monasteries there is the longest building, which includes a refectory with dining rooms, a large library-museum. Each of the buildings has its own unique character, demonstrates the abundance of architectural and decorative elements.
Today the complex is occupied by the University of Catania, and the most attractive place to visit is the library-museum, which has collected a huge number of exhibits and is characterized by stunning interiors preserved from the XVIII century.