The Diocesan Museum – Section of Gallipoli exhibits works of art mainly taken from the Treasure of the Cathedral and from the Bishop’s Palace, but also from other churches in town and in the territory of the diocese (ex-Church of Sant’Angelo dei Nobili, Church of San Francesco d’Assisi, Dominican Convent, Sanctuary of Santa Maria del Canneto, Fondazione Fumarola).  

 Visitors can admire beautiful works of art and sacred objects such as: precious chalices, papier-mâché statues, vestments and silverware. All of these date back to the 17th and 18th century, a particularly important period of time for the numerous local and foreign artists in the region and for the munificence of certain Bishops.

Atop the set of steps at the entrance of the Museum there are two interesting Latin funerary epigraphs in  white marble. These were discovered following some extension works that were carried out on the ground floor and in the garden of the Bishop’s palace between 1959 and 1960.

The number of church bells kept in the Museum is quite substantial.  There are 8 artifacts each belonging to different eras, proving that the production of church bells was well developed and established in Gallipoli, thanks probably to the presence of a number of churches and confraternities in the area.

Metalworking workshops were operating in the city of Gallipoli since 1500, but it’s only between 1600 and 1700 that their activity saw a rise in the production of church bells, bringing Gallipoli at the center of the scene in this sector.

During the first centuries of Christianity, celebrants and ministers did not wear any particular vestments, their clothing were the Graeco-Roman ones.

Stricter rules were implemented in the second half of the 16th century, during the Counter-Reformation period, when different colors and shapes of vestments to be worn during celebrations and solemnities were introduced for the first time in the Roman-Catholic Church.

Following the Reformation process, begun with Papa Innocenzo III, each priest had their vests in relation with the hierarchy of the Catholic Church. Silk, silver and gold were the fundamental elements that characterized the vestments.

In one of the exhibition rooms on the second floor of the museum, under a canopy taken from the Bishop's Palace, probably from the throne room, it has been recreated a model of the Bishop’s throne with three wooden stools engraved and golden painted in gouache.

In the same room it is displayed the Bishop’s attire and part of the personal clothing belonging to Msgr. Pasquale Quaremba, Bishop of Gallipoli between 1956 and 1982.

His successor Msgr. Aldo Garzia was entrusted with the unification of the diocese of Gallipoli with the diocese of Nardò, so it was created the diocese of Nardò-Gallipoli in 1986.

There is only a few and sporadic evidences on the origins of the use of the papier-mâché technique in Italy, and they all date back to the 15th century.

The production of papier-mâché statues amongst sculptors in Lecce started around 1700.

Papier-mâché statues better met the needs of a more devotional, religious and practical clientele, for the numerous processions organized by the confraternities. Several artists were employed in papier-mâché workshops, making statues for  Stations of the Cross representations, patronal feasts and nativity scenes.

The heart of the Liturgy is the Altar, where they are placed the elements essential for the Liturgy and the candle holders necessary for the lighting.

Each age has seen a change in the culture and style of the religious ornaments, with the peak being reached during the Baroque period when the ornaments were richly shaped and decorated, aiming at a sumptuousness that should have led to devotion. Everything was meant to create a spectacularization of the miracle play.

Busts and statues of Saints, chalices and patens, ostensories and reliquaries, candle holders and lamps, the silverware room hosts objects prestigious for their beauty and solemnity. Silver: a strongly evocative metal, the material mostly appreciated for its smoothness, polichromy, and in the sparkling embroidered altar frontispieces and vestments, indispensable for the sumptuousness that the rituals required.

The commissioning both ecclesiastical and laical for the realization of precious ornaments, interested the already established Neapolitan silver workshops, influenced by the Spanish political and cultural domination.

All the paintings in the Museum and in the Cathedral are an exemplary reminder of the development of the art of painting in the Terra di Otranto.

The first floor holds paintings portraying the Virgin Mary, Saints or scenes from the Christian life; on the second floor instead are kept several portraits of the Bishops of the Diocese of Gallipoli, some of which were painted after their death. All these painting are an important representation of the history of the Diocese.

The use of reliquaries originates from the worship of Martyrs, and dates back to the very beginning of Christianity.
Reliquaries are the containers that store and display remains of a Saint, or objects belonging to them.
Different types of reliquaries can be found in the shape of ostensories, busts, and they are usually crafted of or covered by gold, silver and precious stones. 

Sant’Agata, San Sebastiano and Santa Cristina are the patron Saints of Gallipoli and their worship is strongly felt in the city.

The celebrations dedicated to the three Saints represent important moments of tradition and religiousness, that instill in those taking part in them a load of emotions, mysticism and folklore, for unforgettable memories to be made.

Several statues, paintings and reliquaries throughout the Museum are dedicated to the patron Saints.


June to September

Tuesday to Friday: from 10.30 to 13.00 and from 17.30 to 21.00

Saturday and Sunday: from 10.30 to 13.00 and from 17.30 to 21.30

Monday closed

October to May

Tuesday to Thursday from 9.30 to 13.00.

Fridays and Saturdays from 9.30 to 13.00 and from 16.00 to 19.00

Sundays and public holidays from 16,00 to 19,00

Monday closed.

Book here your guided tour of the museum and of the city of Gallipoli.

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A museum is a place where one should lose one’s head. (Renzo Piano)