Cathedral of Syracuse

Syracuse, Italy

The Cathedral of Syracuse (Duomo di Siracusa) origins on this site date to prehistory. The great Greek Temple of Athena was built in the 5th century BC. The temple was a Doric edifice with six columns on the short sides and 14 on the long sides. Plato and Athenaeus mention the temple, and the looting of its ornament is mentioned by Cicero, in 70 BC, as one of the crimes of the governor Verres.

The present cathedral was constructed by Saint Bishop Zosimo of Syracuse in the 7th century. The battered Doric columns of the original temple were incorporated in the walls of the current church. They can be seen inside and out. The building was converted into a mosque in 878, then converted back when Norman Roger I of Sicily retook the city in 1085. The roof of the nave is of Norman origin, as well as the mosaics in the apses.

As part of the increased building activity after the 1693 Sicily earthquake, the cathedral was rebuilt and the façade redesigned by architect Andrea Palma in 1725–1753. The style is classified as High Sicilian Baroque, a relatively late example. The double order of Corinthian columns on the facade provide a classic example of carved Acanthus leaves in the capitals. Sculptor Ignazio Marabitti contributed the full-length statues on the facade.

The interior of the church, a nave and two aisles, combine rustic walls and Baroque details. Features include a font with marble basin dating from the 12th or 13th century, a ciborium (an altar canopy) designed by architect Luigi Vanvitelli, and a statue of the Madonna della Neve by Antonello Gagini (1512).

The cathedral of Syracuse is included in a UNESCO World Heritage Site designated in 2005.



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Founded: 7th century AD
Category: Religious sites in Italy

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User Reviews

Lisa piner (13 months ago)
This is so amazing up close as we were there there were two wedding going on, very lovely place.
Daniele Valvo (13 months ago)
Fabulous reconstruction of the temple. I recommend buying the ticket for the reconstruction of the ancient temple of Athena. You can find inside and is very cheap.
Justinas Remeika (14 months ago)
One of the most impress cathedrals on the island. Rich history, great example of the fine baroque art. If you are in Syracuse, not seeing it is a real crime. Also, as it is the center of the city, you can find all kinds of restaurant and gelato places nearby. I absolutely recommend going there!
Co2Fe3 (14 months ago)
Awesome cathedral in the center of Syracuse (precisely in Ortigia). I really enjoyed the skulls, remembering me when I was a pirate on the Caribbeans (argh argh and a bottle of rum). The price for the entry is pretty affordable 2€, better if you have coins. A little bit disappointed that I couldn’t fine any other living pirates.
Joshua Formentera (14 months ago)
The church in Syracuse is a catholic church and looks very stunning both outside and inside. It's a beautiful church. A great restoration from the inside, the old Greek six temple columns was originally built in 5th B.C inside the building still in great form which you still see them all standing when coming inside the church. The church has great history way back when the building was converted into mosque in 878, then converted back when Norman Roger 1 of Sicily retook the city in 1085. The 17th century murals, sculpture, pictures and stain glass also looks interesting and beautiful. The church style is classified as High Sicilian Baroque and this is listed as of the historic building and part of World heritage site in the entire city of Syracuse. This is a great historic place to see and highly recommended to visit.
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