The Church of San Giovanni Battista, popularly known as San Giovannello, is a church in Gothic style dedicated to Saint John the Baptist, located in Piazza del Precursore, on the island of Ortygia, in Syracuse.
The church was built in the 14th century on the remains of another early Christian church of the 4th century.
Later, the church became a Jewish synagogue. After the expulsion of the Jews in 1492, the building was converted back into a Christian church and used as such until 1915.
After the structure was used for a long time as a theater, auditorium and hall for conferences and performances, it was reopened for worship in 2015.
ART AND ARCHITECTURE
The facade of the church, dating back to 1380, has a beautiful 15th-century portal and a rose window. The roof of the building is completely absent.
On the right of the facade, there is a bell-gable without any bells. The larger bell, from the 9th century, was melted during the First World War, and the second bell, smaller, cast at the beginning of the 20th century, was moved in 1920 to the nearby Church of Santa Maria della Concezione.
The interior of the church is a Latin cross, with three naves, separated by columns alternating with pointed arches.
The paintings of Sant’Antonio di Padova and of the Holy Family, which were once in the church, can be found today in the nearby Church of San Filippo Apostolo. The table of the Madonna della Speranza, now kept in the Bellomo Palace Regional Gallery, is present in the church through a faithful reproduction placed in what was once its altar.
HOW TO GET THERE
The Church of San Giovanni Battista is located about 2 kilometers away from the Syracuse railway station. To find the church on foot, use the map below.