Santa Maria dello Spasimo

Palermo, Italy

Santa Maria dello Spasimo is an unfinished Catholic church in the Kalsa neighborhood in Palermo.

Construction of the church and accompanying monastery of the Olivetan Order began in 1509 with a papal bull from Julius II, on land bequeathed by Giacomo Basilicò, a lawyer and the widower of a rich noblewoman. The Spasimo or Swoon of the Virgin was a controversial idea in late medieval and Renaissance Catholic devotion. The church commissioned the painting by Raphael, Christ Falling on the Way to Calvary, or Lo Spasimo di Sicilia, as it is also known. This was completed in Rome in about 1514-165, but in 1622 the Spanish Viceroy of Naples twisted arms and obtained its sale to Philip IV of Spain, and it is now in the Museo del Prado in Madrid.

The church was never completed because of the rising Turkish threat in 1535, where resources meant for the church were diverted to fortifications of the city against any possible incursions. Even in its unfinished states, Lo Spasimo shows the late Gothic style architecture that permeated building practices in Palermo at the time as well as the Spanish influence in the city.

The church now hosts open air musical, theatrical and cultural events because of its lack of a roof.



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Founded: 1509
Category: Religious sites in Italy

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4.6/5 (based on Google user reviews)

User Reviews

Robert Herzog (4 months ago)
It's a great historical site to explore if you have 20-30 min. There are restrooms , toilet paper was empty. No entrance fee, not much visitors. If you look for some nice ruins to visit it's a place to go. Also nice to practice juggling
Kuala Bound (12 months ago)
Founded in 1506, was abandoned in 1573, and had different uses in the times. It now host also jazz music festival.
Tangotails (2 years ago)
Looked like a nice place to see, but was closed when we got there at 15:00 / 3:00PM in Monday. So be sure to check the current seasonal schedule. Had to walk quite far to get there, and it is located in a nasty looking area. Dirty area. Would not want to be there after dark. Having said that, saw some nice murals on the walls by local artists, quite nice. The place also has hosted some famous musicians, and is also a music school.
Ralf Görlitz (2 years ago)
My favourite place in Palermo. I would love to see a concert in this church without a roof. Always a good place to find some quiet space in the turbulent parlermo.
Edo Gualandi (2 years ago)
Beautiful church... with something missing. This very charming place has a long history: it functioned as a monastery, as an hospital during the plague and as a cultural center in the modern days. Gather information weather is possible to attend a concert or a show there, is an amazing framework for act kind of cultural events
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The castle first mentioned in 1200 was originally owned by the King and later, at the end of the 13th century it fell in hands of Matúš Èák. Its owners alternated - at the end of the 14th century the family of Stibor of Stiborice bought it.

The next owners, the Bánffys who adapted the Gothic castle to the Renaissance residence, improved its fortifications preventing the Turks from conquering it at the end of the 16th century. When Bánffys died out, the castle was owned by several noble families. It fell in decay after fire in 1729.

The history of the castle is the subject of different legends. One of them narrates the origin of the name of castle derived from that of jester Becko for whom the Duke Stibor had the castle built.

Another legend has it that the lord of the castle had his servant thrown down from the rock because he protected his child from the lords favourite dog. Before his death, the servant pronounced a curse saying that they would meet in a year and days time, and indeed precisely after that time the lord was bitten by a snake and fell down to the same abyss.

The well-conserved ruins of the castle, now the National Cultural Monument, are frequently visited by tourists, above all in July when the castle festival takes place. The former Ambro curia situated below the castle now shelters the exhibition of the local history.