The Mother Church of the Annunciation was rebuilt starting in 1699, and largely completed in 1712, as we are told by an epigraph placed on the façade in 1719. The front is marked by two superimposed orders: the lower one is delimited by two columns that are inserted onto high pedestals, between which are the niches with the statues of St. Peter, St. Paul, and St. John the Merciful, resting upon a rich baroque portal.
The upper order is crowned by an elegant balustrade marked by pilasters. The Latin Cross interior conserves some highly prized paintings, an expression of Lecce’s Baroque era – in particular works by Oronzo Tiso and Giovanni Andrea Coppola. Prominent among Tiso’s paintings is the one entitled “Furnace of Babylonia,” more than 5 metres in length, placed on the counter-façade.
The two altars that are conserved, added only in 1874, originate – according to archival findings – from Lecce’s Church of San Francesco della Scarpa.
Also prized are the altars located to the right of the entrance, housing paintings of Our Lady of the Rosary by Giandomenico Catalano (early seventeenth century) and of Madonna of the Souls in Purgatory, a canvas begun by Giovanni Andrea Coppola and completed by his presumed pupil, the monk Angelo da Copertino (1660).
The building saw continuous renovation work, including the construction within it of the Santissimo chapel (early twentieth century).
The church of the Immaculate Virgin rises on the remains of the sixteenth-century chapel of Our Lady of the Annunciation. Work on the new construction began in 1743, and was completed in 1760, thanks to the revenue of the Confraternity of the Immaculate Conception.
The façade is marked by simple lines, a sober portal, and a vaguely oval window, mixtilinear in shape; all is topped by a curved tympanum and statues of saints. The front is enlivened by the presence of two eighteenth-century frescoes reproducing Our Lady of the Annunciation and the Archangel Gabriel, in honour of the church’s early title.
The interior is a single nave with a protruding transept. The scene is dominated by the six canonical Marian canvasses by Lecce painter Oronzo Tiso (1725-1800), done in the 1770s: Presentation of Mary to the Temple, the Annunciation, the Visitation, the Purification, the Nativity of Mary, and the Assumption. Behind the holy building is the monumental crucifixion scene, done between 1913 and 1918.