Skip menu

For the latest information on COVID-19 travel restrictions in Italy. Click here.

Basilica di Santa Croce


The Basilica di Santa Croce in Lecce, a splendid example of Baroque style

In the heart of the Apulian capital of Lecce stands a small gem of great historical, artistic and cultural importance: the Basilica di Santa Croce, the city's first Baroque-style building.


Location and historical background

You will find the Basilica di Santa Croce in Lecce on Via Umberto I, in the historic centre, next to another important structure: the former convent Palazzo dei Celestini.

Initially, the two buildings were part of the same monastic complex, but when the religious order ceased to exist in the early 19th century, the church was abandoned.
The Palazzo was repurposed to house public offices, now acting as the seat of government for the Province and Prefecture.

Almost thirty years later, the church was returned to the Archconfraternity of the Most Holy Trinity.

Considered by 19th-century Lecce contemporaries to be an overly ornate and in some aspects grotesque church, it kicked off the emergence of the Baroque style in the city, though the church's foundation stone was actually laid in 1353 by Count of Lecce Gualtieri VI of Brienne. It only became a basilica in the early 20th century, under Pope Pius X.

In the 16th century, the Basilica di Santa Croce began to expand, requisitioning the homes of local Jews. This expansion project lasted almost two hundred years and involved several illustrious architects and artists, including Gabriele Riccardi, Francesco Antonio and Giuseppe Zimbalo, and Cesare Penna.


A decadent style

When you stand before the Basilica di Santa Croce, you can’t help but be struck by the church's decorations and style, pompous, rich, almost overflowing, as per Baroque designs and models.
You will notice in particular the rose window on the façade of Santa Croce and the inlays on the tympanum and balcony.

You can head inside through one of three doors to discover an explosion of decorations, though the architecture is more functional than the exterior.

The altar is adorned with 12 bas-reliefs by Francesco Antonio Zimbalo and is located under the beautiful dome beautifully decorated with flowers, leaves and angels.
The apse depicts several scenes, including the Adoration of the Shepherds, the Annunciation of Mary, Mary and Elizabeth, and an episode of the Jews’ exodus from Egypt.
The side chapels house masterpieces of religious art, rich in detail and ornamentation.

Here’s an interesting fact: the Basilica di Santa Croce in Lecce has a total of 16 altars (including two masterpieces by Cesare Penna) and a magnificent 16th-century fresco of the Madonna of Constantinople.

It is truly a place of mysticism, magic and beauty, enchanting all who cross its threshold.

Basilica di Santa Croce

Via Umberto I, 1, 73100 Lecce LE, Italia

Call +390832241957 Website

Related articles


Piedmont: hiking between holiness and nature

Art & Culture

Florence in 48 hours


Cities of art, beautiful landscapes and good food: Tuscany is every tourist's dream destination


Mount Subasio Park: a protected and sacred natural area

nera river cycle path

Nera River Cycle Path: cycling through forests and waterfalls

Art & Culture

In Tuscany, in search of the floor of Siena Cathedral

Art & Culture

Pisa and Piazza dei Miracoli, jewels of extraordinary beauty

Art & Culture

A weekend in Val d'Orcia: 10 unmissable churches and monasteries

Food and wine

Friuli Venezia Giulia, Monrupino: rural life in the Karst Plateau

Art & Culture

Fornelli: the village of towers, oil and beauty

Aerial view of one of the gorges through which the Raganello river flows

Orsomarso: pearl of Calabria nestled between the Apennines and the Tyrrhenian Sea


Lake Viverone and the Church of Gesiùn, pearls of the Piedmontese Via Francigena

Art & Culture

Alto Adige, Curon: the sunken bell tower in Lake Resia


What to see in the Murgia Materana by e-bike to discover the rupestrian churches

Art & Culture
hidden rome cultural attractions

5 unusual things to see in Rome, sacred and profane


The Carnival of Ascoli Piceno: with the people as protagonists


The Historical Carnival of Offida, amid fun and colourful folklore

Art & Culture

Emilia Romagna: the talking statues of Parma


Parma, city with theatre, music and excellent cuisine

Explore the surroundings