John of Austria in the town of Messina
A monument in honor to John of Austria was ordered by the Senate of Messina to the sculptor and architect from Florence Andrea Calamech in 1572. It occured after the notable battle of Lepanto where the Christian fleet defeated the Ottoman one on October 7, 1571.
This worthy statue was located in the square of the Royal Palace, where there is the customs now. After the troubles of the Risorgimento in 1848, the statue was moved to the another square along Corso Cavour. Finally, after the 1908 erthquake, it was placed in Piazza dei Catalani, where it can be admired today.
The statue with John of Austria
Don Giovanni, as locals call him, wears a typical Spanish armour and shows with satisfaction his trophy. Mehemet Alì Pascià’s head is under the Christian leader’s foot, given that the Ottoman captain died during the battle.
John of Austria is holding a scepter in his right hand, which is the symbol of the Christian alliance against the Turkish enemy.
The marble pedestal is decorated with bronze plaques on each sides. The battle is described as it follows:
- a front inscription reminds the historical context;
- on the right, both fleets are arranged;
- the crucial point of the battle and the escaping Turkish ships are depicted on the back plaque;
- on the left, the triumphant Christian fleet is approaching the harbour of Messina and the layout of the city dating back to the 16th century can be observed.
The hero is rigid showing his triumph and determination, although he’s stepping forward. He won the battle, and foiled the dangerous Turkish enemy.
Do you know it?
The terrible earthquake in 1908 destroyed sculptures and architectural works of art, which were made by Andrea Calamecca, so this monument is the only entire example of his creativity we can see today in Messina.
A copy of this bronze statue is in Germany. John of Austria was born in 1547 as an illigitimate son of Emperor Charles V in Regensburg. In his birthplace this copy was placed in 1978.
Luana La Fauci (Brigida Carrubba for the translation)