San Domenico Church

Palermo, Italy

The Church of Saint Dominic hosts the burials of many figures of Sicilian history and culture. For this reason it is known as the 'Pantheon of illustrious Sicilians'.

The origin of the building dates back to the Middle Ages. A first Dominican church was built on this site between 1280 and 1285. The church was in Norman–Gothic style and it was also fitted with a convent and a cloister that represented a small and simple reproduction of the more famous Benedectine cloister of Monreale. Inside this primitive church the son of James I of Cyprus, Odo, was buried in 1420 (or 1421).

At the beginning of the 15th century the medieval church became too small for the needs of a growing community of believers. For this reason the friars sought the financial aid of Pope Martin V and of the wealthiest families of Palermo. The new church was built in Renaissance style. However, through the natural course of time, also this building became too small for the liturgical needs of friars and believers. Therefore, in 1630, the Dominicans of Palermo commissioned architect Andrea Cirrincione to build a new church. Ten years after, on 2 February 1640, there was the groundbreaking ceremony. The work required many decades. The Baroque façade was completed in 1726, while the left bell tower dates from 1770.

During the Sicilian revolution of 1848, in this church the Sicilian Parliament was called under the leadership of Ruggero Settimo. In 1853 the church became the pantheon of illustrious Sicilians.


The convent, founded in 1300, is located north of the church and can be accessed from the latter's north aisle. The cloister, founded by the Chiaramonte family, has column and arches including manufacts from the early 13th century building.

The walls have paintings portraying Dominican saints, scenes of Apocalypse, of the Last Judgement and works by Nicola Spalletta from Caccamo. The interior houses a refectory and a large library.



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Founded: 1640
Category: Religious sites in Italy

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4.6/5 (based on Google user reviews)

User Reviews

Donatella Barberis (3 months ago)
Splendid Dominican Church 2 steps from the Vucciria market. Since 2015 it has hosted the remains of Giovanni Falcone, a magistrate murdered by the mafia with his wife and escort. Many famous Palermitans remembered or buried. Also very beautiful is the statue of the Madonna del Rosario, of fine workmanship.
Christopher Raciti (MtcAlpha) (6 months ago)
Excellent visual impact externally. I cannot evaluate it internally as the door was literally slammed in our face, however it was our fault that we did not check the visiting hours.
Kuala Bound (7 months ago)
Many persons with an important role in Sicilian history rest in this church which also has an impressive facade and place in front.
Antonio Pace (12 months ago)
The church of San Domenico is the second most important church in Palermo after the cathedral and is located in the square of the same name in the La Loggia district. She was elected to the pantheon of the illustrious men of Sicily as the judge killed by the mafia Giovanni Falcone.
Dopesandwitch (2 years ago)
Again a nice church. Big and cool. I recommend it guys
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