Shortly after the Kingdom of Naples came under Spanish rule in 1504 the Jews were ousted from Lecce. They used to have houses in an area not far from the big square Piazza Sant Oronzo – when the Jews left in 1510 the houses were taken over and the area was used to found a new church.
The construction of the Basilica di Santa Croce started in 1549 and since it was a pretty big undertaking to build a new impressive basilica it took a long time to finish the construct of the church. It actually took a couple of centuries. The lower facade was finally finished in 1582 and the dome was finished in 1590.
One of the reasons the building took so long is the extensive decorations there is on the building. When you look around the church you’ll see some amazing stone masonry which must have taken ages to do and there probably have only been a limited number of people with the skills to do that kind of work.
If there is no service going on inside the church you really should head inside to have a look at the pretty roof and the dome not to mention the many decorated columns inside the church. When we went inside the church was pretty empty so if it is out of season you should have a nice, quiet and uncrowded time exploring the big church.