The ornate 17th-century facade of Syracuse’s Duomo is typical of many Sicilian baroque churches, but belies the unusual interior of this former Greek temple. Built in the fifth century BC and dedicated to the goddess Athena, the building was converted into a Christian church over a millennium later.
The Syracuse Cathedral (Duomo) is one of many ancient Greek and Roman remains that dot this UNESCO-listed city, though one of the few still in active use today. The temple’s original Doric columns—still visible from both inside and outside—were incorporated into the structure of the seventh-century Byzantine church, and Norman and baroque elements were added over the subsequent centuries, making today’s cathedral a remarkable mix of architectural styles. Inside, the baptismal font is a retrofitted Greek vase, decorated with a number of 13th-century bronze lions.
Syracuse Duomo is a highlight of any walking tour of the city’s historic center, and can easily be visited as part of a day trip from the nearby city of Taormina. Join a guided tour of that includes this unique church to fully appreciate its history and architecture.
Things to Know Before You Go
- Modest attire is required to enter Syracuse Duomo, so be sure to cover your shoulders and knees.
- Walking tours of the duomo and city of Syracuse cover quite a bit of ground; comfortable shoes are recommended.
- The cathedral is accessible to wheelchair users via a ramp at the main entrance.
- Flash photography isn’t allowed inside the church.
How to Get There
The Syracuse Duomo is on the pedestrian-only Piazza Duomo in the city’s historic center of Ortigia and can only be reached on foot.
When to Get There
The duomo closes at from 12pm to 4pm, so time your visit for early morning or late afternoon to catch it open but without the crowds.
The Relics of Saint Lucy
Syracuse Cathedral is home to a number of relics of Saint Lucy (Santa Lucia), patron saint of the city, including bone fragments and clothing. On the first Sunday in May and December 13, the cathedral’s 16th-century statue of Saint Lucy is the focal point of a religious procession through the city streets.