Ragusa Ibla, that in which is today an aristocratic quarter of Ragusa, it is, in reality, the oldest part of the city of Ragusa, on a site already inhabited by Siculians, even before the Greeks and Romans, on a promontory stretching out between two steep valleys. The town acquired importance in the Byzantine era and had a castle (which then fell in an earthquake in 1693); it was then conquered by the Arabs in 848 and remained under their dominion for two and a half centuries. After the Norman conquest it became feud of local noble families and was united to the earldom of Modica and until the mid-1400's it was the administrative headquarters of the earldom. In this era began the concession of feuds in emphyetusis, an event which profoundly modified the social order and determined the formation of a middle class which slowly acquired noble titles. These new nobles, to illustrate and make their prestige grow, funded the construction of new churches, which rose in numbers much greater than effectively necessary for its inhabitants.
The earthquake of 1693, disastrous event, in concurrence with strong economic development, led to the necessity for reconstructing the city, an argument on which the inhabitants were divided: the old nobles chose to reconstruct the city were it was originally, while the new nobles and middle class preferred to reconstruct new buildings in the adjacent quarter of Patro, giving birth to the center of Ragusa Nuova, organized by wide and rectilinear streets.
The Baroque style strongly characterized both centers: the grand façades of the churches and buildings with balconies embellished by typical shelves whose marble confers fantastic large masks or animals competing in the desire to amaze you.
The city has an 18th-century layout with parallel and rectilinear streets, on which scenic façades and churches stand out; the most important of which is the Cathedral, which is dominated by a large terrace supported by a central loggia of Piazza San Giovanni. Going down Corso Mazzini, connecting street descending towards Ragusa Ibla, we find the interesting Church of Santa Maria della Scala, 15th-century, but reconstructed after the earthquake, conserving a portion of the original church, including the pulpit. From its terrace opens a splendid view over the old city, Ragusa Ibla. The Staircase is in reality a stairway with 300 steps which descends to the lower city with various ramps and buttresses, alongside interesting Baroque architecture.