Santissimo Salvatore Church

Palermo, Italy

The Church of Most Holy Saviour (Santissimo Salvatore) was built starting in 1682 in the area of an ancient female Basilian monastery founded by Robert Guiscard in 1072. The building was designed by the architect Paolo Amato, but also Giacomo Amato and Angelo Italia were involved in the construction.

It was said that Constance, Queen of Sicily (1154-1198) had been confined to the church as a nun since childhood due to the prediction that 'her marriage would destroy Sicily' before 30 when she was eventually engaged for political reason.



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Founded: 1682
Category: Religious sites in Italy

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4.7/5 (based on Google user reviews)

User Reviews

Kuala Bound (7 months ago)
Terrace around the dome is not yet open.
Marcus Hurley (2 years ago)
There was a church just round the corner - Chiese del SS Salvatore - that looked interesting. We paid our €2.50 and walked in to a 3D baroque extravaganza. It was nicer than the normal catholic baroque as the colours were a lot more muted, mostly whites and greys, so the designs really stood out. We also went round the corner for the cupola tour but I did that solo as Deb hates spiral staircases. I was fine climbing the stairs until I reached the spiral part - a wrought iron floating staircase that you could see right through just before it collapsed and you plumetted to your death. It was a real effort of will to climb but I am so glad I did as you could see the roof of the dome and all the timber supports for the tower as well as views over the city. Well worth an extra €2.50.
Huykyung “Grace” Byun (2 years ago)
1071-The first building of the church with the Basilian monastery of cloistered nuns was founded by Robert Guiscard in Norman times. Today nothing remains of the ancient monastery, almost completely bombed in 1943, the remains were incorporated in a modern building which now houses a school. Fresco in the dome with The apotheosis of St. Basilio, frescoes in the enterance hall depicting The preaching of St.Basilio(right wall), Healing of the sick child(left wall), frescoes of the four virtues Fortitude, Prudence, Temperance and Justice in the vault of the vestibule built around 1763 by Vito D’Anna.
Steve gunter (3 years ago)
This church is beautiful inside but the real beauty and surprise lies if you walk down the side of the church and pay the 2.50 euros to take a walk to the summit of the dome. Stunning views of Palermo for what is a very small price. Be aware though you do need to go up a free standing set of metal see through spiral staircases so not for the people with vertigo. But once you get to the top there are stunning 360 degree views of Palermo so make the effort if you can.
gnldesantis (4 years ago)
Now the church is an auditorium, and although having fallen into disgrace and decline after Italy was united (as several other places across southern Italy), it still keep a strong pure beauty. Don't miss it. Also, the guides are so knowledgeable, kind and passionate that will make you love the place even beyond its objective brilliance.
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Quimper Cathedral

From 1239, Raynaud, the Bishop of Quimper, decided on the building of a new chancel destined to replace that of the Romanesque era. He therefore started, in the far west, the construction of a great Gothic cathedral which would inspire cathedral reconstructions in the Ile de France and would in turn become a place of experimentation from where would later appear ideas adopted by the whole of lower Brittany. The date of 1239 marks the Bishop’s decision and does not imply an immediate start to construction. Observation of the pillar profiles, their bases, the canopies, the fitting of the ribbed vaults of the ambulatory or the alignment of the bays leads us to believe, however, that the construction was spread out over time.

The four circular pillars mark the start of the building site, but the four following adopt a lozenge-shaped layout which could indicate a change of project manager. The clumsiness of the vaulted archways of the north ambulatory, the start of the ribbed vaults at the height of the south ambulatory or the choice of the vaults descending in spoke-form from the semi-circle which allows the connection of the axis chapel to the choir – despite the manifest problems of alignment – conveys the hesitancy and diverse influences in the first phase of works which spread out until the start of the 14th century.

At the same time as this facade was built (to which were added the north and south gates) the building of the nave started in the east and would finish by 1460. The nave is made up of six bays with one at the level of the facade towers and flanked by double aisles – one wide and one narrow (split into side chapels) – in an extension of the choir arrangements.

The choir presents four right-hand bays with ambulatory and side chapels. It is extended towards the east of 3-sided chevet which opens onto a semi-circle composed of five chapels and an apsidal chapel of two bays and a flat chevet consecrated to Our Lady.

The three-level elevation with arches, triforium and galleries seems more uniform and expresses anglo-Norman influence in the thickness of the walls (Norman passageway at the gallery level) or the decorative style (heavy mouldings, decorative frieze under the triforium). This building site would have to have been overseen in one shot. Undoubtedly interrupted by the war of Succession (1341-1364) it draws to a close with the building of the lierne vaults (1410) and the fitting of stained-glass windows. Bishop Bertrand de Rosmadec and Duke Jean V, whose coat of arms would decorate these vaults, finished the chancel before starting on the building of the facade and the nave.

Isolated from its environment in the 19th century, the cathedral was – on the contrary – originally very linked to its surroundings. Its site and the orientation of the facade determined traffic flow in the town. Its positioning close to the south walls resulted in particuliarities such as the transfer of the side gates on to the north and south facades of the towers: the southern portal of Saint Catherine served the bishop’s gate and the hospital located on the left bank (the current Préfecture) and the north gate was the baptismal porch – a true parish porch with its benches and alcoves for the Apostles’ statues turned towards the town, completed by an ossuary (1514).

The west porch finds its natural place between the two towers. The entire aesthetic of these three gates springs from the Flamboyant era: trefoil, curly kale, finials, large gables which cut into the mouldings and balustrades. Pinnacles and recesses embellish the buttresses whilst an entire bestiary appears: monsters, dogs, mysterious figures, gargoyles, and with them a whole imaginary world promoting a religious and political programme. Even though most of the saints statues have disappeared an armorial survives which makes the doors of the cathedral one of the most beautiful heraldic pages imaginable: ducal ermine, the Montfort lion, Duchess Jeanne of France’s coat of arms side by side with the arms of the Cornouaille barons with their helmets and crests. One can imagine the impact of this sculpted decor with the colour and gilding which originally completed it.

At the start of the 16th century the construction of the spires was being prepared when building was interrupted, undoubtedly for financial reasons. Small conical roofs were therefore placed on top of the towers. The following centuries were essentially devoted to putting furnishings in place (funeral monuments, altars, statues, organs, pulpit). Note the fire which destroyed the spire of the transept cross in 1620 as well as the ransacking of the cathedral in 1793 when nearly all the furnishings disappeared in a « bonfire of the saints ».

The 19th century would therefore inherit an almost finished but mutilated building and would devote itself to its renovation according to the tastes and theories of the day.