The old part of Lecce is enhanced by beautiful architectures and sculptures in the Baroque style, made with the local stone, known in fact as the Lecce stone which has the particularity of being easily mouldable at the time of processing and to acquire compactness with the course of time assuming warm shades of amber colour. City in Salento area, Lecce is 11 km from the Adriatic Sea and 27 km from the Ionian Sea.
The ancient city of Lecce originates from a Roman settlement called Lupiae, was built in the third century BC, near a Messapian center which for the emergence of this new city, lost its importance. Lecce for five centuries was part of the Eastern Roman Empire, after a thousand was dominated by Normans, Swabians and Angevins, up to the fifteenth century when it became an important centre of the Aragonese.
In the sixteenth century the Spaniards arrived, with Charles V were rebuilt the boundary wall and the Castle, as a defence against recurrent Turkish raids. The plant of the old town of Lecce dates back to this period, which also saw the beginning of the constructions of the Basilica of Santa Croce, the Church of St. Irene of Theatines and the Seat Palace.
In the seventeenth century the city changed its appearance with the creation of beautiful works in the Baroque style of Lecce. There were transformations in Piazza Duomo and its buildings, and new constructions including the government building, the former Convent of the Celestini, the Churches of St. Matthew and St. Clare.
- S.Oronzo Square, which is the city centre, where you find the Roman column topped by a statue of Sant’Oronzo, the patron saint of Lecce after the terrible plague epidemic that hit the Kingdom of Naples in 1656.
On the square you can see the Roman Amphitheatre, while the remainder is still hidden in the basement of the square occupied by various buildings, including the church of Santa Maria della Grazia of the Baroque era, situated in front of the Amphitheatre, the Seat Palace, standing next to the former church of San Marco built in 1543 at the behest of Venetian residents in Lecce.
Piazza Duomo is one of the rare examples of enclosed square. A propileo crowned by a balustrade with statues, is the entrance to a harmonious and spectacular arrangement of beautiful baroque buildings including the Cathedral, built between 1659 and 1670 on a twelfth-century church, the Seminary and the Bishop’s Palace was rebuilt between sixteenth century and the seventeenth century on an original building dating back to the fifteenth century.
Basilica of Santa Croce, built in 1549 and completed in 1695, together to the Government Palace, the former Convent of the Celestini, is defined as the highest manifestation of Lecce Baroque.
Church of Saints Niccolò and Cataldo, located just outside the centre of Lecce, was founded in 1180 by Tancred. The façade is in Romanic Apulian style with Baroque elements placed after the building renovations.