Church of San Lorenzo (Agrigento)

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The Church of San Lorenzo in Agrigento, also known as the Church of Purgatorio, is a splendid example of Sicilian Baroque. Inside, as in the case of the church of Santo Spirito, it is possible to admire the splendid stucco decorations made by the Serpotta family. Just in front of the church is the entrance to the so-called Hypogeum of Purgatory. This is a network of tunnels built in the Hellenistic period to transport water downstream. They were discovered by chance when it was decided to lower the level of the square due to the constant infiltration of water.

The exterior of the Church of San Lorenzo di Agrigento

The construction of the church of San Lorenzo of Agrigento dates back to the second half of the 17th century, at the behest of the wealthy bourgeoisie who lived in the neighborhood. The exterior has a richly decorated façade with two orders of pilasters. The main doorway is made up of two twisted columns with pilasters on either side with the statues of Faith and Charity. The structure of the first order is repeated in the second, where the shape of the entrance portal is echoed by an artistic window. On its sides, however, there are two statues of saints. A bell tower to the left of the façade completes the elevation and contributes to its height. Opposite the entrance to the church of San Lorenzo is a portal with two columns surmounted by a sleeping white lion. This is the entrance to the so-called Hypogeum of Purgatory, a network of tunnels and underground passages built in Hellenistic times to collect water.

The interior of the Church of Purgatorio and its artworks

The interior of the Church of Purgatory in Agrigento has a single nave with four lateral chapels. The stucco decorations on the walls are from the Serpotta school. Inside there are eight statues by Giuseppe and Giacomo Serpotta representing the moral virtues. On the vault are other stuccos representing the souls of Purgatory. A false dome, decorated with a huge swirling fresco by the Agrigento painter Michele Narbone, completes the vault. The church of San Lorenzo also contains two seventeenth-century confessionals, made macabre by the presence of some skulls, and a marble statue of the Madonna of the Pomegranate, attributed to the school of Gagini. Also worth seeing is the Chapel of the Crucifix, covered with pure gold and the work of the sculptor Pietro Carletto. Today the church is no longer used for worship, but it is a place where conferences, exhibitions, meetings and cultural events are organized.

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