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3 wonders to know about the Cathedral of Ortigia

Joining the UNESCO World Heritage List in 2005, the Cathedral of Syracuse (officially the Metropolitan Cathedral of the Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary) is considered the city's most important church. We are faced with a monument of unique charm, with features that have no equal in Italy.

The history of the Cathedral of Ortigia is truly unique, and despite the passage of time and the succession of peoples and religions, the building has always been maintained as a place of worship for more than two and a half millennia: no surprise it hides all these secrets! Let's discover some of them.

Remember that the Cathedral of Ortigia is only a 7-minute walk from our hotel: contact us to arrange your stay in Syracuse!

Il Duomo di Siracusa
The Cathedral of Syracuse

The signs of time and nature

The Cathedral of Ortigia, over the centuries, has been a Greek temple, a church, a mosque, to finally become a church again. Originally the Duomo was built by closing the spaces between the columns of a 5th-century B.C.E. Greek Doric temple, columns that are still visible today both outside and inside the church.

It has been speculated, however, that the foundations of the ancient Doric temple of Gelon rested on a religious building in the Ionic style, which is much older and rarer. In fact, it would appear to be of apostolic origin. It is currently considered the first shrine built by St. Paul the Apostle.

Some of the columns "imprisoned" in the walls have been tilted and twisted by earthquakes throughout its history. These deformations have, in some ways, "frozen" the impressive force of nature that has shaken Syracuse in its multi-thousand-year history.

It is worth pausing to admire the medieval interiors of Byzantine origin, adorned with 18th-century floors and Byzantine-style windows. Don't miss the wonderful 16th-century statues.

Dettagli delle colonne del Duomo
Details of the columns

The chapels

Inside the Cathedral of Syracuse are important works of art, relics, the remains of saints and splendid chapels, each of which is distinguished by unique features.

Not to be missed is the Chapel of Saint Lucy, where you can admire the silver simulacrum dedicated to the patron saint of Syracuse.

We then find the scenic and imposing Chapel of the Sacrament, adorned with bas-reliefs and Corinthian-style columns with gold trim, protecting the Baroque-style wooden tabernacle by Luigi Vanvitelli.

We then find the Chapel of Our Lady of the Snows, from the Norman period, and the Chapel of the Baptistery, adorned with Byzantine mosaics.

Panoramica degli interni del Duomo di Ortigia
Inside the Cathedral of Ortigia

The baroque-style facade

The facade of Syracuse Cathedral is considered one of the most important representations of the Baroque in Sicily. It is characterized by two horizontal orders, separated by an embattled entablature, where a carved bas-relief can be admired.

The lower order contains six Corinthian-style columns, two of which support statues of the two martyrs of Syracuse, Saint Marcianus and Saint Lucy.

Noteworthy is the statue of the Immaculate Conception, dating from the 1700s, located inside the arched niche set in the upper level, surrounded by two sculpted angels.

The mighty marble steps in the churchyard house statues of Apostles Peter and Paul, while the central doorway features a tall wrought-iron gate with floral motifs and crenelated gables.


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