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

Matej Lutar (8 months ago)
Located in a big square, this famous church looks beautifull and magnificent. You can sit in near bar and watch the crowds how they admire it.
Terry Firkin (9 months ago)
Lovely Cathedral in Ortega island Syracuse. We were lucky and arrived just as a military wedding was leaving the church. Exit was carried out in great style and the Piazza Duomo is one of the prettiest in Italy. Cathedral is very interesting as it is built on a pre christian Greek temple and makes use of the original ionic or doric columns, very large and cut from a single piece of stone
Geoffrey Berg (9 months ago)
The cathedral and the square and the whole island of ortigia for that matter are pure magic. This was our favourite place in our two weeks of travels in Sicily. The church museum isn't the most exciting, but the the fact that it was a Greek temple and that Archimedes may have wondered its halls all just add to the magic of the place.
Sougata Bhattacharjee (10 months ago)
Syracuse Cathedral, located in the heart of the historic city of Syracuse in Sicily, is a magnificent religious landmark that captures the essence of the region's rich history and architectural splendor. Steeped in ancient charm, this grand cathedral stands as a testament to the city's cultural and religious heritage. The interior of the cathedral is equally captivating, with intricate frescoes, ornate sculptures, and stunning stained glass windows that bathe the space in a warm, ethereal glow. The attention to detail and craftsmanship displayed in the artwork and decorations is truly remarkable, reflecting the dedication and skill of the artists who contributed to its creation.
Anne Amsterdam (10 months ago)
Amazing experience, so special and humbling to walk around in a place with this much history. Absolutely worth the small admission fee of 2 euros. We visited on a fairly calm Wednesday in May and everything was pretty accessible, no waiting times.
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