Arco di Trionfo
The Arco di Trionfo (Triumphal Arch) is a monumental archway set at the western edge of Lecce’s old town. Its striking structure sets the scene for the many architectural treasures that line the streets of the city’s historic center. Otherwise known as Porta Napoli, the Arco di Trionfo was erected in 1548 by Gian Giacomo dell’Acaya, who also built the Castello di Lecce.
Stand in Piazzetta Arco di Trionfo to enjoy full-frontal and uninterrupted views of this almost 66-feet (20-meter) tall gateway. Either side of the central archway are two Corinthian-style columns that support a large triangular pediment. Pay attention to the pediment’s detailed carvings, which depict armor, weapons and the Spanish coat of arms. The latter is a dedication to a state visit by Emperor Charles V at the time of the gateway’s inauguration.
Walk to the opposite end of Piazzetta Arco di Trionfo to see the city’s Obelisk. Raised in 1822, it honors Ferdinand I, the King of the Two Sicilies. Decorating the four sides of the Obelisk are bas-relief friezes that portray mythological creatures. Look for a dolphin biting a crescent-shaped moon, which is the coat of arms of the ancient region of Terra d’Otranto.
The Arco di Trionfo is about a 15-minute walk from Lecce’s main train station. Public buses stop on nearby Via F. Calasso and parking is available, for a fee, on the streets that run either side of the gate.
Besides being an impressive landmark, the Arco di Trionfo is an ideal place to start an exploration of Lecce’s old town. Marvel at the Baroque cityscape while wandering at will along the twisting lanes. Follow atmospheric streets to grandiose squares such as Piazza del Duomo and Piazza Sant’Oronzo. Admire the Renaissance décor inside the Holy Cross Cathedral and discover subterranean Roman crypts and a Messapian tomb at Museo Faggiano.