Photo of Syracuse Cathedral

Visit Syracuse Cathedral

Syracuse Cathedral is a magnificent Catholic cathedral built on the site of and incorporating the remains of an ancient Greek doric temple. It sits on the beautiful Piazza Duomo (Cathedral Square) on Ortigia Island in Syracuse.

The cathedral is an important part of the UNESCO World Heritage Site listing given to the city of Syracuse for its fine architecture spanning Greek, Roman and Baroque eras.

Explore Syracuse Cathedral

The current cathedral was built by Bishop Zosimo of Syracuse in the 7th century on the site of the 5th century Temple of Athena. The doric pillars of the original temple have been incorporated into the walls of the cathedral and you can see these columns both on the outside and the inside of the cathedral.

The cathedral was converted to a mosque in 878 and then back to a catholic church when King Roger I of Sicily reconquered Syracuse. Under his reign the Norman roof of the nave was constructed and some Norman mosaics added to the apse.

Syracuse Cathedral

After the 1693 earthquake the facade of the cathedral was rebuilt by Andrea Palma and statues added by Ignazio Marabitti. The facade is built in High Sicilian Baroque style and blends harmoniously with the other beautiful buildings around Cathedral Square in Syracuse.

The outer facade of the cathedral is decorated with Corinthian columns and several statues. The statues by Ignazio Marabitti include Saint Paul who once spent three days in Syracuse on his way to Rome; Saint Lucia who is the patron saint of Syracuse; and the Virgin Mary in the centre on the upper level.

Inside the cathedral is a nave and two aisles. The nave is a beautifully sombre space very simple in style and ornamentation which seems fitting for the temple space it once was. The chapels in the aisles have been decorated with the more elaborate decorations associated with Italian churches.


One of the side chapels is decorated to Saint Lucia who is the patron saint of Syracuse. At the alter you can see the reliquary containing a number of bone fragments of Saint Lucia. Twice a year a magnificent silver statue of Saint Lucia by sculptor Pietro Rizzo is paraded through the streets of Syracuse. The statue contains fragments of three of Saint Lucias ribs in its chest. The first Sunday of May and December 13th are the dates these take place.

Another of the chapels is the Chapel of the Blessed Sacrament and contains lots of frescoes depicting scenes from the Old Testament.

In the Baptistery is a marble font from the 12th or 13th century placed on seven bronze lions from the Norman period. In the Chapel of the Crucifix there is a marvelous painted crucifix.

Syracuse Cathedral

Where to visit nearby?

The Ortigia district of Syracuse is a beautiful city full of Baroque architecture and Syracuse has some key buildings and remains from Greek and Roman civilisations.

More splendid Baroque architecture can be admired in the nearby towns of Noto, Ragusa and Modica which together form part of the UNESCO World Heritage listing as the 'Late Baroque towns of the Val di Noto'.

You can find more local travel ideas in the South-East Sicily guide,

See also: 

Photos of Syracuse Cathedral

Click any picture to start the gallery

  • cathedral
  • chapel-baptistery-mosaics
  • chapel-baptistery
  • chapel-crucifix
  • chapel-sacrament1
  • chapel-sant-lucia
  • chapel-sarcrement
  • nave-pulpit
  • nave-sanctuary
  • nave
  • nave1
  • sant-lucia
  • spiral-column
  • temple-athena-1
  • temple-athena-doric-columns
  • temple-athena

Map of Syracuse Cathedral and places to visit


Syracuse Cathedral places to visit

Syracuse - Ortigia Island

Syracuse - Ortigia Island

Ortigia is the fabulous old town of Syracuse.

Syracuse - Ortigia Island guide


Syracuse is famous for its old town on Ortigia island but its mainland side is an attractive city with Roman ruins

Syracuse guide


Cassibile is a popular for its canyon rock pools.

Cassibile guide


Noto is one of the top Baroque towns in Sicily.

Noto guide


Lentini is a quiet town with a few interesting monuments.

Lentini guide