Bari Tourist Attractions
Situation and importanceBari, capital of the region of Apulia and the province of the same name, lies in southern Italy - on the Adriatic coast.
It is the largest city in Apulia and the second largest in southern Italy after Naples.The port of Bari, a leading commercial and industrial center (petrochemicals and shipbuilding), is particularly important by virtue of its trade with the eastern Mediterranean. It is also the see of an archbishop and possesses a university and a naval college.The picturesque old town, with its narrow winding streets, frequently spanned by arches, lies to the north, on a promontory between the old and new harbors. To the south is the spacious and regularly planned new town, which has developed considerably since 1930, when the Levant Fair was first held here.HistoryThe ancient Barium was a place of little importance. Until it was captured by Robert Guiscard in 1071 it was used by the Byzantines as their main base in southern Italy. From 1324 it was an almost independent fief which finally passed to the kingdom of Naples in 1558.
The center of the new town is the palm-shaded Piazza Umberto I. On its west side is the imposing building of the university, with a well-stocked library (160,000 volumes), and the interesting Museo Archeologico Nazionale.
Address: Gioia del Colle, Castello Svevo, Piazza dei Martiri, I-70100 Bari, Italy
Opening hours: 9am-2pm; Closed: Mon
Always closed on: Epiphany (3 Kings' Day ) - Christian (Jan 6), New Year's Day (Jan 1), Liberation Day - Italy (Apr 25), May Day / Labor Day (May 1), Assumption Day - Christian (Aug 15), All Saints' Day - Christian (Nov 1), Christmas - Christian (Dec 25), Feast of the Immaculate Conception (Dec 8), Day after Christmas, St Stephen's Day, Boxing Day (Dec 26), Easter - Christian, Easter Monday - Christian
Entrance fee: FREE
From the north side of the square the new town's principal traffic artery, Via Sparano, coming from the station, runs north past the modern church of San Ferdinando into the busy Corso Vittorio Emanuele II, which separates the new town from the old. 100m/110yd along the Corso Vittorio Emanuele II to the left is the Piazza Garibaldi, the traffic center of the town. On the right is the prefecture, on the left the Town Hall, which also houses the Teatro Piccinni. From the east end of the Corso Vittorio Emanuele II the Corso Cavour, lined with fine buildings, leads towards the station.
Lungomare Nazario Sauro
The east end of the Corso Vittorio Emanuele II is also the starting point of the Lungomare Nazario Sauro, a magnificent seafront promenade which runs along the old harbor.
Provincial Picture Gallery
1km/0.75mi southward along the Lungomare Nazario Sauro is the palace of the provincial administration in which is the picture gallery (Pinacoteca Provinciale). Most of the pictures are older scenes of Bari and the surrounding area, together with works by Moretto da Brescia, A. Vaccaro, C. Maratta, Giovanni Bellini ("Martyrdom of St Peter"), Vivarini, Paolo Veronese, Tintoretto, etc.
In the center of the old town of Bari rises the cathedral of San Sabino (originally 1170-78), with important remains of Norman ornaments. In the crypt is an elaborately adorned painting of the Madonna; the archives include two parts of a large exsultet roll (the Catholic Easter liturgy; 11th century).
A little way north of the cathedral in Bari is the church of San Nicola, a large pilgrimage church begun in 1087 but not completed until 1197, which is one of the finest achievements of Romanesque architecture in Apulia. Inside, above the high altar, is a tabernacle (12th century) and to the right of the altar is a "Madonna with Saints" by Vivarini (1476). In the apse is the tomb (1593) of Bona Sforza, wife of King Sigismund II of Poland and last duchess of Bari (d. 1558) and a marble bishop's throne. The crypt with 26 different columns contains a silver altar (1684) underneath which is a vault containing the remains of the popular Saint Nicholas of Bari (c. 350), patron of seamen, prisoners, pupils and children (principal feast May 8th).
To the west of the old town of Bari is the Castello, originally a Byzantine-Romanesque building, reconstructed by Frederick II in 1233. Bona Sforza converted it into a palace in the 16th century; later it was used as a prison and signal station. The building now houses an interesting museum with copies of Apulo-Norman sculptures (temporary art exhibitions).
From the Castello in Bari the wide Corso Vittorio Veneto runs west past the Great Harbor (Gran Porto or New Harbor) to the grounds of the Levant Fair (Fiera de Levante), 2.5km/1.5mi away on the seafront.
From Bari to Gravina di Puglia (55km,34 miles)
About 15km/9mi southwest of Bari is the little town of Bitetto (139m/459ft; pop. 9,000) with the cathedral of San Michele (14th century), a building in late Apulo Romanesque style.
From Bitetto it is another 29km/18mi southwest over the Murge plateau to Altamura (478m/1,577ft; pop. 53,000), a town still partly surrounded by its old walls. There is an imposing cathedral, built by Frederick II in 1231 and renewed in the 14th and 16th century. It has a richly decorated doorway (1312) on the main facade. Inside are a pulpit, a bishop's throne (16th century) and beautifully carved choir-stalls (1543).
Gravina di Puglia
About 11km/7mi west of Altamura is Gravina di Puglia (338m/1,115ft; pop. 37,000), picturesquely situated above a deep gorge (gravina) with an interesting cathedral (15th century choir- stalls), the church of Santa Sofia (tomb of a duchess of Gravina; 1518) and a municipal museum. Outside the town, in a gorge, is the rock-hewn church of San Michele with remains of Byzantine paintings; another rock-hewn church is beyond the viaduct. On a hill north of the town are the ruins of a Hohenstaufen castle, which was built by Frederick II in 1231.
West of Bari lies Bitonto (118m/389ft; pop. 51,000), with well-preserved town walls. In the center of the old town is the cathedral (c. 1200), perhaps the finest example of Apulian Romanesque architecture. Particularly beautiful are the richly decorated main doorway and the delicately pillared gallery on the south side. Inside there are two fine pulpits. Beneath the church is a crypt supported by 24 columns. East of the cathedral stands the Palazzo Vulpano Sylos (Renaissance courtyard; 1500).