Reggio Calabria Wireless
Sanctuaries, churches, chapels
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TUE 19
MON 18
SUN 17
Heritage and Culture
The Church of the Ottimati

The Church of the Ottimati (or church of Santa Maria Annunziata) goes back to the byzantine period and it can be found in Reggio Calabria near piazza Castello.
Built around the 10th century, it took its name from the ancient crypt of the Ottimati which was built as a support for the church built in Norman times and dedicated to San Gregorio Magno.
Trusted to the congregation of the Ottimati and dedicated to Santa Maria Annunziata, since 1964 it is adjacent to the collegio dei Gesuiti.
According to a floor plan held by the Calabrian archaeology institute the original building was very similar to many of the other byzantine churches in Calabria and for this reason we suspect that the Church of the Ottimati has byzantine origins and can be dated back to the 10th century.

The original plan shows a square layout, three eastern apses hidden by a straight wall; the three naves were covered by five small domes according to a byzantine model applied to buildings in the region from the end of the 10th century and during the 11th century. Examples of this are the Cattolica of Stilo, San Marco di Rossano and San Giorgio di Pietra Cappa near San Luca.
In the Norman era, probably during the reign of Ruggero II, another church was built above it called San Gregorio Magno. Here the domes were substituted for cross coverings.
During the invasion of the Saracens on September 3rd 1594 the church of the Ottimati was damaged and burned.

The Ottimati were a congregation of nobles founded by the Normans. Over time family crests in marble from noble families have been conserved here. Among these Filocamo, Griso, Altavilla and Borboni. After the Saracens destroyed the antique painting of “I’Annunciazione” the congregation of the Ottimati commissioned a new altarpiece from a young Agostino Ciampelli and in December 1597 the new painting from Rome arrived of the SS. Vergine Annunciata, which has great artistic value. Abandoned in 1767 following the suppression of the order of the Jesuits, the church received the protection of Ferdinando I of Borbone in 1780. After it was seriously damaged during the earthquakes of 1783 and 1908 the church was rebuilt in the first half of the twentieth century. In 1916 it was moved due to the needs of the reconstruction of the city following the earthquake of 1908.  The rebuilding of the actual church was completed in 1933 under the supervision of the school Beato Angelico of Milan, using a design by the architect Pompilio Seno in 1927, who adopted the original byzantine style already seen with the Cappella degli Ottimati. Also this new temple displays an Arab-Norman style with three naves. The beams are crossed, supported at the centre by columns. Certain missing parts of the mosaic pavement and from the columns have been have been completed using very similar pieces taken from the Norman basilica of Santa Maria di Terreti which was completely destroyed.
In the area under the central nave a chapel was constructed by P.Guido Reghellin but this is not open to the public. 

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