Duomo di Lecce and its surrounding Piazza are a must-visit when traveling through Salento in Apulia. Made in Baroque Leccese Style, the cathedral is crowned by marvellous decorations and ornaments. Dive in deeper to get a better impression about one among many architectural highlights in Lecce.
What to expect
- 1. About Duomo di Lecce
- 2. Piazza del Duomo in Lecce – The sunkissed Square
- 3. Inside Duomo di Lecce – Where Baroque Intensifies
- 4. Piazza del Duomo in Lecce at Night
- 5. When to visit Duomo di Lecce
- 6. how to get there
- 7. Conclusion
1. About Duomo di Lecce
Lecce’s cathedral, the Duomo, exists, in its prior form, since 1144. However, a few centuries later, the seat of the Archbishop of Lecce got rebuilt by Lecce architect Giuseppe Zimbalo. Thus, the Duomo di Lecce stands in the historic centre in todays’ appearance since the 17th century.
Zimbalo designed the cathedral in the Baroque Leccese Style. You must know that Lecce is blessed with two things: a huge density of baroque sights and the “Pietra leccese” (Lecce stone). Both dominate the old town amazingly. Especially the used local calcareous rock got mesmerizing features.
At night, the pietra leccese looks like moonstone. Astonishingly, it’s the other way around during daylight.
2. Piazza del Duomo in Lecce – The sunkissed Square
One of the main squares of Lecce is Piazza del Duomo. Funnily, it almost outshines the cathedral itself before entering it. Surprisingly, that’s not only linked to the architectural beauty surrounding it. This is rather related to the already mentioned Pietra leccese stands out the most. When the sun is shining, you beautifully experience the phenomenon of sunkissed facades.
2.1 The grandiose Episcopio
Located at the square’s southern edge, the 15th century-built Palazzo Arcivescovile, also known as “L’Episcopio”, might be the first eye-catcher. Its grandiose design frames amazingly the south-western corner of the Piazza. Particularly the clock on its top expresses certain importance. Well, to be precise, it’s the seat of the archbishop of Lecce.
2.2 Il Palazzo del Seminario
At the Piazza’s western side, a building sticks out with an amazing facade. Also built in the baroque leccese style, the Palazzo del Seminario contributes to the epic beauty of the square. Completed in the early 18th century, the palace is home to a museum dedicated to sacred art nowadays.
2.3 Campanile del Duomo di Lecce – The highest Building in Town
Fortunately, a cathedral wouldn’t be the same without a striking element. The Duomo seeks mainly your attention with its fulminant bell tower. Unsurprisingly, the Campanile del Duomo is also the city’s highest building, counting 68 metres. Moreover, its whitish appearance makes it literally look like the immaculate guidepost of Lecce.
2.4 The Duomo di Lecce from Outside
Well, then there’s the cathedral itself. At first sight, it might look like the typical church you see in every Italian town. However, appearances are deceptive.
3. Inside Duomo di Lecce – Where Baroque Intensifies
Never judge a book by its cover. Astonishingly, this is exactly the case here. What looked generic from the outside, is jaw-dropping inside. Hence, the Duomo di Lecce is quite a sight.
3.1 Majestic Ceiling Design
No matter where you look at first, the cathedrals’ height is immediately notable. Thus, your head might stick at your neck for quite some time. Especially as soon as the majestic ceiling design pops up in your view. Its contrast between orange and gold creates a huge eye-catcher. Then there are these amazing paintings also framed in gold. Yeah, it looks megalomaniac like in every cathedral, but it’s still beautiful art and design.
3.2 The Art packed Altar Area
As if the cathedral isn’t decorated grandiose enough, the area around the altar yet tops it. Amazingly, all possible baroque elements intensify at this very place. Its number of paintings, particularly at the ceiling, looks like the galleries on Instagram or Pinterest.
3.3 Looking back to other Main Entrance and Organ
The Latin-crossed Duomo has two entrances in total. While mostly the side entrance is being handled as the main one, the other one at the cathedrals’ backside stands out in a different way. When leaving the Duomo, you face the backside and its exit.
So, why do I make a fuss about it? Well, there is the organ located above it. Besides that, the perspective is marvellous. The door has two rounded coloured windows which create a certain light play during sunshine. Thus, emphasising an epic atmosphere.
Although you might leave the cathedral, the journey is quite not over yet.
4. Piazza del Duomo in Lecce at Night
Depending on your timing, you might miss a special feature around the Duomo. Once the sun disappears and the sky fades to darkness, those fantastic baroque facades get illuminated at the Piazza. What was first sunkissed, is now enchanted by the power of the moon. Thus, Piazza del Duomo transforms into an illumination fest of the finest.
4.1 When the Campanile del Duomo transforms into a Lighthouse
Although the cathedral’s bell tower is a reference point in Lecce’s skyline, it manages to outdo itself at night. Its already white stone facade gets much brighter due to being illuminated. Hence, the Campanile emerges an amazing dominance in the skyline. Due to this fact, it becomes the Lighthouse of Lecce.
4.2 Lecce’s Moonstone Facades
Throughout the day, Lecce’s buildings are sunkissed and appear orangish. However, at night quite the opposite happens. The illumination makes the Pietra leccese look like moonstone. Fun fact: if you take a look at Lecce and the Salento in general on Google Maps, you notice many white spots. It turns out that these are all the various historic centres which were mainly built with that local stone.
It’s definitely astonishing how a city or a town can change its appearance depending on daytime.
5. When to visit Duomo di Lecce
Normally, visiting the city of Lecce and its Duomo are not linked with any season at all. For sure, it’s less busy outside the peak months of July and August.
Nowadays, you can only visit the cathedral after making a reservation at its official homepage here. Unfortunately, it’s only in Italian.
As soon as the situation gets back to normal, I’ll list the visiting times in this section.
6. How to get there
Duomo di Lecce is situated pretty centrally within the old town. Thus, parking and bus stops are mostly available at the centre’s rim. Please use the embedded map below to approach the cathedral in the best way possible.
All in all, Duomo di Lecce is a gorgeous magnet for considering a visit to the baroque pearl in Italy’s southern region of Salento. Its overall grandiose square and surroundings are already on the same level as common Italian destinations. On top of that, the overall rich decoration inside the cathedral rounds up the dolce Italian journey. For now, this is one of many great sights in Lecce and Apulia in general. There lies much more beyond this Duomo.