St. Catherine and the Archaeological Museum
The city, the cloisters and a young prince
What it is and where it is
It has the appearance of an ancient convent that has passed through the centuries calmly and gently, but at the same time it vibrates with a youthful and modern vital energy, so much so that it seems like a nonsense, or even the site of some strange magic. In reality, it is the Dominican convent dedicated to St. Catherine of Alexandria whose rooms, now removed from monastic life, have been transformed to become the hub of Finale Ligure's cultural life, housing a library, an auditorium, multipurpose spaces for exhibitions and conferences, and even the impressive Finale Archaeological Museum, complete with educational workshops.
Why it's special
Sometimes places rich in beauty and history turn out to be distant, mainly because in order to preserve them we remove them from use, turning them into "museum pieces." Here things are a bit different: the tall, square-plan bell tower of the former church, along with the octagonal bell tower of the Collegiate Church of San Biagio, rightfully enter the Finalborgo skyline. But it is the interior spaces, with the two beautiful Renaissance cloisters at the forefront, that thanks to a major redevelopment project are the preferred place for young Finalborgo residents to study outdoors, and participate in meetings and events.
Not to be missed
The Archaeological Museum, the result of more than 100 years of research, covers the entire history of the Finale area and its priceless cultural landscape, starting more than 350,000 years ago. Its narrative unfolds through artifacts, reconstructions, dioramas, and scenic settings, leading visitors to discover the Finale area from Prehistory to the Byzantine era. As in the rest of the complex, participation and involvement are also key words for the museum, which offers visitors the chance to take part in educational workshops, art therapy and tactile trails.
A bit of history
The church and convent date back to the second half of the 14th century; the cloisters, on the other hand, were commissioned by Cardinal Carlo Domenico Del Carretto, and can be dated between 1500 and 1530, during its heyday. In the 19th century the church was completely remodeled, but in 1864 the entire monastic complex was used as a prison. Since the late 1970s, a major redevelopment project that lasted almost twenty years has returned one of its most important places to Finale Ligure. Today the Santa Caterina di Finalborgo complex is one of the most important cultural centers in western Liguria.
Resting in the Archaeological Museum is the cast of the "Young Prince of the Candide Arenas," a 15- or 16-year-old Upper Paleolithic youth, dating to about 28,000 years ago, whose body was discovered in 1942 in the Candide Arenas Cave. The name "Young Prince" comes from the surprising richness of his burial, befitting a person of high rank. Some of the objects found with him are so rare as to make this, one of the most important Upper Paleolithic finds in the world. What about the original burial? You can find it in the Museum of Ligurian Archaeology in Genoa Pegli.