Cathedral of Syracuse

The Cathedral of Syracuse / Duomo di Siracusa, formally the Cattedrale metropolitana della Natività di Maria Santissima, is an ancient Catholic church in Syracuse, Sicily, the seat of the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Siracusa. Its structure is originally a Greek doric temple, and for this reason it is included in a UNESCO World Heritage Site designated in 2005.

The cathedral stands in the city’s historic core on Ortygia Island.

The origins of a temple on this site date to prehistory. The great Greek Temple of Athena was built in the 5th century BC. Archeological site excavations by Paolo Orsi in 1907-1910 show the Greek temple to have been built on even older foundations, and uncovered a wealth of archaic and pre-Hellenic artefacts. Many are held by the Museo archeologico regionale Paolo Orsi in Syracuse.

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 roof of the nave is of Norman origin, as well as the mosaics in the apses.

As of 2015 the cathedral holds a number of relics of St. Lucy, the patroness of the city: a number of bone fragments, a robe, a veil, and a pair of shoes. Twice a year on the first Sunday in May and on December 13, her feast day, a statue of Saint Lucy by sculptor Pietro Rizzo (1599) is brought out of the cathedral and paraded through the streets.

The cathedral shares the Piazza Duomo with the Church of Santa Lucia Alla Badia, a short walk to the south. That church owns and displays the Caravaggio painting Burial of St. Lucy.

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