Saturday, April 2, 2016

Going to Church

View from the roof terrace
I am not a religious person, but for some reason as I travel the world I seem to end up finding churches and cathedrals. My time in Lecce is no exception. For someone who never actually attends church, I spend a lot of my travel finding and visiting them.

I can however justify this seemingly odd inconsistency. I appreciate the artistry and beauty of these buildings. Although they hold no religious significance to me I enjoy seeing the amazing architecture and art work in them.

There are lots of churches here in Lecce and all of them are quite beautiful. They are scattered all over the inner city, and it seems there is one around every corner. As you wander around narrow streets here you will suddenly come across another church. I was told that there are 300 churches in the whole of Lecce, but just in the old walled inner city where I am located I count 20 little crosses on the map indicating a church. Some of them are within a block of each other. I have no idea how a city this size can support 20 churches, yet they all seem to be well maintained, and like so many old churches in Europe many are being restored, hidden behind scaffolding.

As I sit on the terrace outside, I can see the tallest structure in Lecce, the bell tower of the Cattedrale di Lecce on one side and the bell tower of Chiese (church) di Sant’Irene. We haven’t quite figured when and where the bells in these towers ring, but they seem to go quite often. However they seems slightly off, ringing at 18 past or 21 minutes to, but then on one walking trip where I forgot my watch the first four clocks we found had completely different times, none close to correct.

On a walking tour of the old city, we visited at least four major churches, and another was recommended as a worthwhile visit. Just waking straight out to the city gate on the road outside the apartment we pass four churches on the 5 minute walk.
 
All these churches are similar in design, with solid stone structures rather than the tall spires and intricate ornate design of the lofty cathedrals we saw in many of the European cities on our River Cruise. I was told that the Churches in Lecce are excellent examples of baroque architecture. The facade of these churches all feature beautiful carved stone work, but turn the corner to walk down beside them and you see simple stone walls, and at times you will find yourself walking beside a tall unadorned wall and wonder what it is only to turn the corner to find another church. Inside the carved stone work is even more beautiful, but the lack of marble in the area cause many interiors to be painted to look like marble rather than actual marble.

The other day while out on my photo walk for the door knockers, I came across a church built on a corner and the fa├žade was curved to match the street, and created a unique design, and since the door was open I went in to find one of the most beautiful churches in the city.


Well, as Regis says, “Father Art” is off to find another church . . . . .

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