Often called the Casa Professa, the Church of the Gesù (Chiesa del Gesù) is one of the most important Baroque churches in Sicily. Built by the Jesuits in the late 16th century on the edge of Palermo’s Jewish Quarter, the church took almost 50 years to build, with help from hundreds of artists and artisans. Inside, visitors will find colorful frescoes, intricate stone carvings and marble reliefs in a stunning setting for reflection and worship.
Many of the church’s frescoes were replaced after being destroyed in World War II, but are impressive nonetheless. Look for the paintings covering the dome’s vault, as well as those in the side chapels on the right, such as a depiction of the Adoration of the Magi and of St Paul the Hermit. Marble reliefs from the 18th century depicting the Adoration of the Shepherds and the Adoration of the Magi both survive.
The church can be visited on a walking tour of Palermo's markets and monuments, which includes stops at the Palermo Cathedral and the Royal Palace of Palermo—part of a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
The Church of the Gesù is a short walk from the Ballaro Street Market in Palermo’s Albergheria neighborhood. The nearest bus stop is on Via Marqueda, just east of the church. Take bus line Marqueda–Palazzo Comitini for the ARANC bus.
The church is free to enter, although there is a suggested donation of EUR 2.
The church is open Monday to Saturday from 7am to 11:30am and again from 5pm to 6:30pm; it is open Sunday from 7am to 12:30pm. The church is closed in the afternoon during the month of August.