One of Palermo's most noted and beautiful churches is the baroque beauty, Chiesa del Gesu', which is also known as the Casa Professa. Its extravagant baroque interior is a breathtaking sight.

The church is the seat of the Jesuits order in Sicily but started life as a Basilian monastic church in a grotto, called Santa Maria della Grotta, in 884. In the Norman period, it was enlarged and became an actual structure, the Sant'Anna Chapel, under the orders of Roberto Guiscardo, built over the original grotto.

In 1553, the church was given to the Jesuits by Charles V, and the Jesuits were recognized by the Sicilian Parlament as ecclesiastic representatives on the island. They set about to construct a befitting church, inaugurating it in 1577 as the Chiesa del Gesu di Casa Professa. With a collegio for studies and monastery facilities, it became a noteworthy ecclesiastical complex, the likes of which hadn't been seen in Sicily.

The restrained facade doesn't prepare you for the splendor inside - intricate lace-like decoration and exuberant ornamental stuccoes meld with rich marbles. It is something that will truly leave you speechless! Unfortunately, the church's cupola was bombed in WWII and collapsed, losing the original frescoes. The complex includes an arcaded cloister, now the atrium of the library.

The Chiesa del Gesu is open from 7:00 AM til 12:00 PM and from 4:30 PM to 6:00 PM daily.

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Address in Palermo:

Piazza Casa Professa, 21.

Ph. (+39) 091 332 213.

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