Lecce is famous for its sumptuous baroque architecture, and the Italian city’s main cathedral (Duomo di Lecce) is one of the most ornate examples. Its magnificently carved and adorned Leccese-stone facade is a 17th-century masterpiece and one of the highlights of this city on Puglia’s Salento peninsula.
The original Norman cathedral was built on Piazza del Duomo in the mid-12th century. More than 500 years later, the church was completely reworked in the baroque style and finished by Giuseppe Zimbalo, who had a hand in many of Lecce’s most beautiful churches and palaces, and is now buried beneath the church’s altar, dedicated to the city’s patron saint. The 17th-century Bishop’s Palace and 18th-century Palazzo Seminario and cloister are also located in the square alongside the Duomo, and looming over everything is the 230-foot (70-meter) bell tower.
The city, and the entire surrounding province of Lecce, has some of the loveliest baroque architecture in Europe, and walking tours of the city include stops at the Duomo and other important architectural monuments. For a more in-depth tour of the interior of the cathedral and other buildings on the piazza, opt for a private tour.
Things to Know Before You Go
- Lecce and its baroque treasures are especially fascinating for architecture buffs.
- Piazza del Duomo is ringed by buildings and has only one entrance, so you cannot walk through the square.
- You must have your shoulders and knees covered to enter the cathedral.
- The Duomo and surrounding square are accessible to wheelchair users.
How to Get There
Piazza del Duomo and Lecce Cathedral are about a 3-minute walk from the city’s main Piazza Sant'Oronzo, through a jumble of streets of the old town (centro storico).
When to Get There
Lecce celebrates its three patron saints each year on August 23, 24, and 25. The entire city celebrates with light displays, music, and festivities, so it is an especially memorable time to visit Lecce and its cathedral.
Lecce’s Baroque Masterpieces
In addition to its Duomo, Lecce has a number of other 17th-century architectural treasures in its historic center, including the Basilica di Santa Croce and the Church of Santa Chiara (Chiesa di Santa Chiara).