Palazzo Biscari is the most important private palace in Catania.
It was built at the behest of the Paternò Castello family of the Princes of Biscari starting from the end of the seventeenth century and for most of the following century, following the catastrophic earthquake of 11 January 1693. The new palace was built on the walls of Catania, built at the behest of the emperor Charles V in the sixteenth century and which had partly resisted the fury of the earthquake: the Biscari were one of the few aristocratic families of the city that obtained the royal permission to build on them.
The oldest part of the building was built at the behest of Ignazio, third prince of Biscari, who entrusted the project to the architect Alonzo Di Benedetto, but it was Ignazio’s son, Vincenzo, who succeeded his father in 1699, to commission the decoration of the seven splendid windows overlooking the marina, the work of the Messina-born sculptor Antonino Amato. Subsequently the palace was modified by Ignazio Paternò Castello, fifth prince of Biscari, who had it extended towards the east on a project by Girolamo Palazzotto and, subsequently, by Francesco Battaglia.
The building was finally completed in 1763 and inaugurated with grandiose celebrations. Among the famous visitors of the palace is remembered above all the writer Johann Wolfgang Goethe who, during his trip to Italy, was received by the Prince of Biscari on 3 May 1787, little after the death of his father Ignazio.