A maze of glowing limestone streets of Baroque palazzi and churches clings to the hillside. Ibla has 14 Unesco World Heritage buildings in an area of less than one square kilometre.
At the centre of this compact city is the delightful, sloping, palm-adorned Piazza Duomo, dominated by the Cathedral of St George. Its curved, columned, luminous facade is one of the most attractive in the region. For a great view, climb the steps towards Upper Ragusa to the terrace of the Church of Santa Lucia and look back at the tiled rooftops, campanile, domes and facades of Ibla lit by the evening sun.
The story of Ragusa Ibla may be glimpsed in the sequence of its names. It was first called Ragusa Nera (Black Ragusa), remembering that it was an African settlement dated 25’000 BCE. Then after the rising of the sea, it became Ragusa Ibla after the mother of heaven and earth, known in Mediterranean cultures as Cybele. Much later, Greeks invaded and changed the town’s name to Ragusa Hera.
In 1693, after the famous earthquake, the town’s population was divided about where to rebuilt the town. The richer population, the aristocrats, built their new town on a different site, called now « Upper Ragusa », whereas the other half of the population decided to rebuilt it on its original site: a crest at the bottom of the gorge « Lower Ragusa », which returned to its name Ragusa Ibla.