Duomo Square

From the outset, Piazza Duomo was destined to be a sacred spot. Already much visited as such by the ancient Sicilian people in antiquity, it had been the site of the greatest archaic Ionian temple known to Western Grecian Empire. The remains of this revered structure are now under Palazzo Senatorio, next to the Temple of Athena.

Cicero narrated tales of the temple's ivory and gold doors decorated with the goddess' shining shield; being visible from afar, it acted as a landmark and guide to navigating sailors in ancient times.

As often happened with ancient temples - this one was no exception - in due time was converted into a Christian Basilica. Space between the pillars was closed, the interior reused, and it became the Cathedral. In the Norman Epoch the walls of the naves were decorated with mosaics, parts of which remain to this day.

Said to be one of the most evocative and beautiful in Italy, the piazza's elegant form stretches in a semi-oval, flanked by aristocratic palaces coupled with the splendours of the Cathedral. The church of Santa Lucia alla Badia ("to the Badìa", a convent) with a characteristic Sicilian baroque façade: in the light of the setting sun, it is worth seeing.

Next to the Duomo is the Palazzo Senatorio (the Senators' Palace), home of the city hall, built in the Sixteen Hundreds on the ruins of a Ionian temple. Opposite stands the Palace Benventano del Bosco, rebuilt at the end of the Seventeen Hundreds. Lastly, to the right of the Duomo, the medieval Episcopal Palace, made by structures restored and reutilised in the Sixteen Hundreds, completes the scene with its splendid terrace and hanging garden.

The "Duomo", Syracuse Cathedral, is the perfect fusion of pagan of and Christian worship. Rebuilt in 1700 after the earthquake of 1693, the façade, with its elegant hints of baroque, steals attention from the rest of the piazza.

The beautiful blending of architectural styles spanning centuries is evident in both the internal and external aspects of the Cathedral. The Doric columns, visible on the left nave of the cathedral, date from the days when a Temple of Athena stood on the site. In the Seventh Century, when the first Christian church was built there, the columns were incorporated into its structure, linking the worship of the past, with the present.

Created: 09 Aug 2013
Last update: 06 Jul 2023

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