The Church of Santa Maria dei Martiri is a church in Otranto. It stands on the Hill of Minerva, the scene of the martyrdom of eight hundred inhabitants took place on 14 August 1480.
The building was rebuilt in 1614 to replace the existing one built by Alfonso of Aragon, in memory of the massacre that took place. It is adjacent to the convent of the minims, dating back to 1542.
On 14 September 1480, three days after occupying the city, Gedik Ahmet Pasha, Commander of the Turkish fleet, ordered that they be conducted on male residents aged over 15 years. The prisoners Ahmet proposed to renounce the Christian faith and in Exchange for his life. Eight hundred men resisted being beheaded, one by one, on a large boulder. Tradition has it that the first to be executed, Parveen, miraculously remained standing, without head, until the end of the gruesome execution.
On October 5, 1980, in the Fifth Centenary of the martyrs inhabitants, the Church was visited by John Paul II during his visit to the Church of Otranto. Was elevated to Diocesan shrine in 1992.
The Church is reached by a staircase. Going up, on the right, there is a small chapel where the stone on which were beheaded eight hundred inhabitants, today placed in the Cathedral; on the left is the column commemorating the death, Turkish Berlabei, of the executioner, who was impalation killed for converting to Christianity.
The building, built in the early 17th century, is influenced by architectural elements from the Renaissance period and of Lecce Baroque, typical of the Reformation. The simple façade has a portal and window seats in the axis. The portal is a scroll held by two Angels with a Latin inscription. The Interior has a single nave, houses baroque altars carved in local stone, including the largest and those dedicated to Saint Francis of Paola and St Anthony of Padua, rich in carvings. Among the paintings there is a large painting of Lavinio Lame in the second half of the 16th century depicting the massacre of Otranto. Right, in a side altar, are kept the icon of Santa Maria dei Martiri, Albanian painter Gurim Bazaiti (1922), and the plaque commemorating the 400th anniversary of the event. Some marble slabs in the Church are some of the names of martyrs of 1480.