Sicily Earthquake of 1693

On the 11th of January 1693 a huge earthquake destroyed at least 45 cities, affecting an area of 5600 square kilometres and causing the death of more than 60 000 people - about half of the population of the South-East of Sicily.

Hardest hit was Catania, where 2/3rds of the population lost their life.

This was one of the biggest earthquakes to hit Italy alongside the 1908 earthquake of Messina.

The 1693 earthquake was a disastrous event affecting eastern Sicily, southern Italy, where it caused over 60,000 victims and total destruction of several villages and towns in the districts of Siracusa, Ragusa, and Catania. The earthquake was followed by a tsunami that struck the Ionian coasts of Sicily and the Messina Strait and was probably observed even in the Aeolian Islands. Historical documents on sea waves and flooding, though not abundant, allow us to form a picture of the tsunami first attack and inundation. The first water movement all along the Sicilian coastline was a strong sea withdrawal, followed by a violent sea return and coastal flooding.

The 1693 earthquake refers to a powerful earthquake that struck parts of southern Italy, notably Sicily, and Malta on January 11, 1693 around 9 pm local time as Mount Etna erupted. It destroyed at least 45 towns and cities, affecting an area of 5600 square kilometres and causing the death of over 60,000. Two thirds of the entire population of Catania were killed.

Completely destroying many buildings, the earthquake prompted a Baroque revival in architecture in the towns of Sicily and Malta known as Earthquake Baroque and many existing cathedrals and buildings can be pinpointed as being built at a similar time. Sicilian Baroque during the eighteenth century became known as an architectural subject in its own right.

Towns hit by the earthquake prompting the rebuilding of many of its structures include Syracuse, Sicily, Ragusa, Italy, Caltagirone, Palazzolo Acreide, Modica, Comiso and Mdina on Malta -such as St. Paul's Cathedral, Mdina.