Lecce, Basilica of the Holy Cross - Lecce
The church of the Holy Cross is the oldest and most famous of Lecce’s Baroque buildings. With the adjacent Palazzo del Governo (Government building), previously a Celestine Convent, it constitutes one of the city’s most impressive monument complexes.
The Basilica has a cross-vaulted roof with a hemispherical cupola. The inside is divided into three naves by columns with richly sculpted capitals. The central nave has an intricately carved timber lacunar nave, while those to the sides have cross-shaped vaulted ceilings. The building is entered via three portals with archivolts with lintels, the central of which is sumptuously decorated.
The internal façade is punctuated by a series of columns, arches and a balustraded balcony supported by engraved corbels. The sculpted decorations are characterized by a spirit of gaiety and eccentricity. The façade is completed by the great rose window, finished in 1646, decorated with floral friezes, bunches of fruit and cherubs.
The sculpted internal fittings are made from local Lecce stone which is soft and smooth and can be worked with the blade of a knife and a lathe. Once in position and exposed to the air, this stone hardens like marble. Because of this quality, the decorations are known by the people of Lecce as opera decurtieddu (meaning made with a knife in local dialect).
viaggiareinpuglia.it – Portale Turistico Istituzionale della Regione Puglia