After a magnitude (hypothetical) 6.2 foreshock on January 9, 1693, at 9PM on January 11, 1693 the earth shook in southeastern Sicily like it hasn’t since. Etna was erupting, and a tsunami struck the Ionian coasts of eastern Sicily and the Strait of Messina. We don’t know the exact scope of the earthquake’s power according to today’s Richter scale, but scholars believe it was a 7.4. The earthquake, which had aftershocks until more than a year and a half later, is considered to have been responsible for about 60,000 deaths.
The entirety of eastern Sicily experienced destruction, with the most damage in the Val di Noto, including the city of Catania and the civic centers Ragusa, Siracusa, Noto, Modica, Palazzolo Acreide, Scicli, Caltagirone, and Augusta, to name a few. Reconstruction after the event led to an architectural rebirth of the region that today we know as the Late Sicilian Baroque, pictured here in the town of Modica, where its magnificent Duomo di San Giorgio regally holds court.