BASILICA OF SANTA CROCE
The solemn Basilica of Santa Croce is a glimpse you don’t expect, a sumptuous feast of stone that unfolds in front of the eyes of whoever strolls along Umberto I avenue, , not far from Sant’Oronzo square, in Lecce, the very symbol of Lecce’s Baroque. Built by the count of Lecce Gualtieri VI of Brienne in 1353, it was elevated to Basilica by the pope Pius X in 1906. The façade is punctuated by a series of columns, featuring a balcony with a balustrade, supported by figured corbels. The triumph of decorations is simply mind-blowing, while at the centre of this explosion of low reliefs and sculptures in Lecce stone, a creation by Cesare Penna based on a design by Giuseppe Zimbalo, stands out the large rose window, decorated with floral friezes, bunches of fruits and cherubs. The Basilica is accessed via three portals, of which the central one is richly decorated. The interior, featuring a Latin-cross layout and a hemispherical dome, is divided into three naves by columns with sculpted capitals. The central nave presents a wooden coffered ceiling. Amid the sumptuous rich decorations of the interior, stands out the altar of San Francesco di Paola, decorated with twelve low reliefs depicting the life of the Saint, created by Francesco Antonio Zimbalo.
Piazza del Duomo
The historic Piazza del Duomo in Lecce, Italy is the religious center of the town. The piazza is home to some of the most ornately decorated Baroque buildings in Lecce: the Duomo Cathedral, the Bishop’s Palace, the Seminary and the soaring bell tower. Unlike most piazzas, this one is enclosed on three sides with only a narrow, north side entrance off the main street, Via G. Libertini.
The first church on this site was built in 1114, followed by subsequent additions in the year 1230 and fully embellished in the Baroque style (that remains today) between 1659 and 1670. Unlike most churches, the Cathedral (Duomo) has two facades; the main one facing the square and a secondary one to honor Lecce’s patron saint, Oronzo, facing west. Both are elaborately decorated by the works of Leccese sculptures.
Located on the eastern walls of the city, Rudiae gate is the most interesting and ancient gates of Lecce, the one facing the old city of Rudiae.
Built on the ruins of an older gate, collapsed towards the end of the 17th century, Rudiae Gate was rebuilt in 1703 by noble Prospero Lubelli.
It is also known as Sant’Oronzo gate, and is surmounted by a statue of the saint and patron of Lecce, but also by other previous patrons, Sant’Irene and San Domenico.