Churches in Lecce, Italy

One of the more significant monuments of the architect from the Norman times Giuseppe Cino (a student of Zimbalo) is the Church of Saints Nicolo and Cataldo. He gave the church a Baroque frontage but still managed to retain the medieval architecture like the portal and the central eye. The Church of Graces stands opposite the Sant’Oronzo and has two huge tympani, one circular and one triangular. Splendid baroque altars can be found in the Church of Sant’Irene, which is known locally as the Church of the Theatines.

The Basilica di Santa Croce lies north of the piazza Sant’Oronzo. Architect Gabriele Ricardo started work on this in the middle of the 15th century and it was fully completed only in 1680. The architecture resembles Spanish style and has cherubs, fantastical monsters, plants and animals covering the façade made of the beautiful Lecce stone. The top of the façade was constructed by Antonio Zimbalo and he has done quite a brilliant job at it. The interior, in stark contrast to the facade, is done in plain Renaissance style. About fifteen kilometers from Lecce is situated the very old Cerrate Abbey, which, according to popular legend, was founded by Tancredi d’Altavilla, a Norman King, when virgin Mary magically appeared before him during one his usual hunts. The place was once a significant religious centre but was later deserted. Now it contains the Provincial Museum of Folk Traditions in Salento with peasant articles.