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The magnificent interior of the Basilica is divided into three naves by 16 splendid marble columns which are paired at the dome in order to support the weight more effectively. If you observe the capitals of the columns, they seem as if they are blossoming, but if you look closely, you’ll see the head of an apostle peeking out.

After the chaotic facade, the impression you get inside the church is one of calm and purity. The marvelously bright, spacious interior is flooded with light, which radiates from the rose window or cascades from the lantern of the dome, symbolizing the inundation of divine splendor. This light gives the church an inviting allure, with its beauty enhanced by the magnificent coffered ceiling, which seems suspended in air as if by magic, with the golden elements twinkling like stars. In the center of the ceiling, you can see the painting of the Holy Trinity by Giovanni Grassi, next to the coats of arms of the Celestines, the order the church belonged to.

The intention of Gabriele Riccardi, the same architect who designed the lower part of the facade, was to portray the contrast between the chaotic outside world and the world purified by the light of faith.

The eighteenth-century central altar comes from the Church of Santi Niccolò e Paolo, while the two side altars are both original. On the left is the one dedicated to Saint Francis of Paola, a masterpiece from 1614 by Francesco Antonio Zimbalo, in which the columns, adorned by an intricate floral decoration, feature twelve panels with scenes from the Saint’s life. This altar is widely considered the finest work of sculpture in Lecce. On the right is the altar of the Holy Cross by Cesare Penna, who also sculpted the rose window.

As you can see, there are seven deep chapels on each side of the aisles, and there are richly decorated altars in each chapel, adding up to a total of 16 Baroque altars in the Basilica.


An interesting fact: if you look behind the right corner of the facade, you’ll see it ends in a sort of pillar that seems to incorporate a column. This is a characteristic feature of Lecce architecture, which some experts believe symbolizes the Church – the square pillar – incorporating the pagan world, represented by the smooth column within it.

Our visit to the Basilica of Santa Croce ends here. MyWoWo would like to thank you - see you again at another Wonder of the World!



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