Cretto di Burri – Gibellina Vecchia, Italy - Atlas Obscura

Cretto di Burri

Gibellina Vecchia, Italy

Leveled by an earthquake, this Italian village is now preserved as a massive concrete art project. 


On the night of January 14, 1968 a terrible earthquake shook the Valle del Belice area in Sicily, destroying several towns and claiming 1,150 victims.

One of these towns, Gibellina, was completely erased and rebuilt several years later at a nearby location. The site of the village ruins, however, was given over to artist Alberto Burri who turned the disaster area into a permanent memorial known as the Cretto di Burri. Burri covered the footprints of the destroyed buildings with concrete creating an angular, industrial reminder of the village’s original layout. Building rubble, furniture pieces, utensils, and toys are also left underneath the cretto’s cement. Most affecting of all is the deep, eerie silence which surrounds visitors as they walk the “streets” of Cretto di Burri,  leaving nothing but reflection over the destruction and the misery of that 1968 night.

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