A combination of Roman ruins and Baroque, Gothic and Renaissance landmarks create an impressive architectural landscape at this old town square.
Piazza Sant’Oronzo is an attractive public square, which boasts a cornucopia of architectural styles and is the result of centuries of craftsmanship. It takes its name from St. Orontius of Lecce, the city’s patron saint. Find a relic from Lecce’s early beginnings as a Roman settlement, spot mosaics and visit interesting churches. Piazza Sant’Oronzo is also a location for outdoor cultural events.
The square has two distinct sides. The north side is an open brick-paved area designed in the shape of an oval. Embedded into the floor is a mosaic of the city’s coat of arms, which features a wolf and a holm oak tree topped by a gold crown. Framing this section of the square are examples of merchant houses and fascist-style architecture. Today, these buildings house fashion outlets, fast-food joints and guesthouses.
The oval-shaped area is the setting for markets and concerts, some of which are free to attend. Watch exhibitions of nativity scenes and browse artisan stalls during the yuletide Fiera dei Pupi. Ask at the city’s tourist information offices for an event schedule.
Go to the south side of the square to see the Colonna di Sant’Oronzo, crowned by a statue of St. Orontius of Lecce. Next to here is the Seat of the Palace, a small palace raised in the 1500s that displays both Gothic and Renaissance aspects. Once a seat of government, it now hosts temporary art expositions. Connected to the palace is the Chiesa di San Marco, notable for its typical Baroque façade.
Don’t miss the chance to look down into the excavated ruins of the A.D. 2nd-century Roman Amphitheater. Imagine a time when Roman settlers would congregate here to watch flamboyant events, including gladiator fights. A large portion of the amphitheater remains buried beneath the square. This is another occasional location for concerts.
Piazza Sant’Oronzo sits amid Lecce’s old town and is a 5-minute walk from both Piazza del Duomo and the Holy Cross Cathedral. Cafés with outdoor terraces surround the square and provide an ideal vantage point for observing the contrasting buildings.