Visit Duomo Saint George
The Duomo Saint-George is the principal religious monument in the lovely town of Ragusa, in south-east Sicily. It is in the centre of the old town - called Ragusa Ibla - and near the top of the hill above the town.
Explore the Duomo Saint George in Ragusa
Italy This Way comment: Although the interior of the duomo in Ragusa is not exceptional, the facade is an impressive example of baroque architecture and the view across Piazza Duomo from the steps of the duomo is superb so a visit is not to be missed
Saint George is one of the patron saints of Ragusa Ibla, the other is Saint John.
The church was built from 1739 - 1781 on the ruins of an earlier church that was built in the 12th-13th century and almost destroyed by the earthquake in 1693 except the portal of Saint George.
The facade of Ragusa duomo is generally thought to be one of the most impressive baroque facades in Sicily. It was designed by Rosario Gagliardi, who designed many of the baroque churches that were rebuilt after the earthquake in Sicily in 1693.
The flight of steps and the high wrought iron fence in front adds to the drama of a visit and makes the church seem larger than it is. There are three layers to the facade, the upper level holding the bell and a clock, the middle layer window and the lower level a main door and two side doors. The facade is embellished with numerous corinthian columns as well as statues and other baroque style decoration.
You enter the duomo through a portal which consists of a pointed arch stone of pink limestone, of Gothic-Catalan style, decorated with carvings depicting "St. George on horseback slaying the dragon." Above the arch the Aragonese eagle is also visible.
Inside Ragusa duomo there is a main nave and two side naves, separated by substantial stone pillars, and the church has a Latin cross form. The spaces between the columns have red curtains that add a softness to the interior, and as with the facade there is a substantial amount of baroque decoration.
Above the transept there is a large dome, and smaller domes above the rear of the duomo and the transept. The main dome is raised on lots of columns, with windows between all the columns which allow the cathedral to be full of light. There are also 13 stained glass windows representing the martyrdom of St. George above both sides of the nave, so the interior of the duomo is very bright.
The side chapels of the duomo are mostly filled with 18th century paintings. There are two other items of interest that you will see: a statue of Saint-George on horseback, and a large reliquary box covered in silver. These are carried through the town in a procession on Saint Georges day.
The sacristy is accessed from the left transept and here you can see various sculpture-pictures that were made in the 16th century and saved from the original church of Saint-George.
Visiting Ragusa duomo
- the duomo is also impressive at night when it is illuminated so it is useful if you are staying nearby because there is a deep valley between this part of Ragusa and the new town
- just behind the church you can reach a road that is highter than the duomo and allows a lovely view of the dome
- the duomo is in Ragusa Ibla which is different to the cathedral which is in the more recent part of Ragusa (a cathedral is a duomo, but so is a building that used to be a cathedral or was built to be a cathedral or is a cathedral in a town that no longer has a bishop...)
- the duomo is not always open: when we visited in May it was open 10.00-12.30 and 16.00-18.30.
The town of Ragusa has a great deal of character and is one of the most beautiful towns in Sicily: see the Ragusa guide.
You can find more local travel ideas in the Sicily guide.