Commemorating Messina’s 1908 Earthquake

This calendar (and the astronomical clock on an adjacent wall, not shown) was built in 1933 on the renowned bell tower next to Messina’s Cathedral. The tower was rebuilt after the December 28, 1908 earthquake, from which approximately 75,000 people died in a metropolitan area of 160,000 people. Measuring 7.1 on the Richter scale, the first shock occurred at 5:20 AM and lasted 37 seconds. It destroyed all but the entire city of Messina and was followed by a violent tsunami reaching more than 35 feet in height. Then, for the subsequent two and a half months, hundreds of aftershocks undermined the communities of northeastern Sicily and Calabria, as the African tectonic plate and the European tectonic plate collided at the Strait of Messina. More than a century later, the 1908 earthquake pervades Messina’s history and continues to define the city.

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