The Ancient Abbey
The gothic architecture of the Ancient Abbey is similar to the one of the Palace Duke of
Saint Stephen. We can then suppose that the two buildings are of the same period, that is
of the late fourth century. It is consituted by three rooms with the same surface. A
string-course frieze with inlays of lava and white syracusan stone decorates and divides
the first from the second floor.
On the frieze there are three wonderful mullions (windows with two lights), placed near as
to compose an unique window with six lights.
The acute arcs of the two lateral windows are decorated by one pierced rose window, while
the acute arc of the central mullion is adorned with three pierced rose windows. The top
of the Ancient Abbey is adorned with dovetail merlons, which run along all the fronts.
The name of "Ancient Abbey" could come from having been an abbey in the past,
or, as the architect A. Dillon says, from having been the residence of the abbess Eufemia,
regent since 1355 of the reign of Sicily on behalf of the minor brother Frederic IV the