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

Mattia Collalti (Scotch) (7 months ago)
We were here watching a theatre solo performance and the atmosphere was stunning. It's basically a church with no roof
Brice Pissard (8 months ago)
Little church from the 13 century partly destroyed during the middle of the XIX century and finally completely destroyed during the second world war. The only walls that remains gives a notion of how it was before. A large part of the garden is not accessible and still is in process of being renew. Not the best place to see in Palermo but one the only place where you can feel the war effect.
January Wuhu (12 months ago)
Excellent and unique church to visit amongst the many in Palermo. The open air nature of the church gives it a completely different atmosphere. Managed to catch a concert there as well which just added to the ambience of it all
m z (2 years ago)
A beautiful place to visit on your own. Also a great concert venue.
Giacomo Grisanzio (3 years ago)
One of the most peaceful and pleasant stops in Palermo. Take the time to enjoy this stunning place
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