Baroque in Salento: Lecce and Province
Visiting Salento means to immerse oneself completely in the baroque atmospheres of these places, which starting from Lecce, the symbolic city of Baroque in all of Apulia, follows a route that passes through Gallipoli to Lequile, Galatina, Nardò, Maglie and many other centres.
Baroque in Salento
Listing all the monuments of Baroque art in Apulia and in particular in Salento with its centers is really impossible, but crossing the streets, it is not difficult to recognize them by their splendor and the preciousness and richness of the decorations.
Baroque in Salento is justified by the famous Lecce stone, which with its malleability was used between the sixteenth and eighteenth centuries to create works of art comparable to gold chiselling.
Lecce and its elegance
There are several monuments and stately palaces that in Lecce can be defined as a symbol of baroque. The Duomo in the square of the same name is one of these, but also the church of Santa Croce, innovative in its loggia supported by animalesque figures that acts as a watershed with the lower part of the facade. The façade itself is a triumph of symbolism and decorations, with cherubs, statues, small rosettes beneath the largest and most majestic and countless columns. All this is due to the architect Francesco Zimbalo, the same architect who also built the former Celestini Palace adjacent to it.
In Galatina, another example of Baroque architecture is the mother church of the apostles Peter and Paul, built in the 1300s, which underwent a rebuilding of the entire facade in the 1600s. Inside you can admire polychrome marbles and double columns, which support a ceiling frescoed only in the 1800s.
Other examples of Baroque in Galatina are the Doge’s Palace, the Seat and Palazzo Orsini while in Maglie, an amazing example of Baroque Art is Madonna of the Sorrow church.
the Baroque of Nardò and Galatone
In the town of Nardò, there are several Baroque works, including a curious monument called “dell’ Osanna” whose motives for the construction were for a long time a mystery. It has eight side columns and one in the centre and dates back to the 17th century. Only later it was discovered that it was built to avoid pagan rituals at the pre-existing central column. Today it is the place where on Palm Sunday the blessing of the branches is done.
In Piazza Salandra you can admire several Baroque churches in Salento, such as Sant’ Antonio, San Domenico, San Trifone and, not far away, those of Santa Teresa and San Giuseppe. The latter were faithfully rebuilt in Baroque style after the devastating earthquake of 1783, which damaged all of Apulia and southern Italy seriously.
Galatone is home to the Sanctuary of the Most Holy Crucifix of the Pieta, the most beautiful example of early baroque in the province of Lecce, always due to the architect Zimbalo.
The facade is arranged on 3 levels on which there are 4 statues of the Evangelists and Jesus’ statues in the center, plus those of Saints Peter and Paul placed in niches richly decorated with floral motifs and divided by pilaster strips.
In Galatina there is the cathedral of Sant’ Agata which replaced a previous Romanesque church. The façade immediately impresses the visitor with its elegance and rich baroque motifs. There are several statues, floral and leafy motifs, a central grille and two side panels and monumental gates. Inside, a very rich production of paintings, 106 to be exact, that make it a sort of museum of baroque figurative art.
The Seminary Palace is also one of the exquisitely Baroque and dates back to 1756. Designed by Adriano Preite, it has a monumental portal that leads into the diocesan museum.