The city of Santa Claus
Tour by bus. Distance: 100 Km
BARI (ancestral, Barium) was an important Roman colony and a commercial centre in the II century BC. But its greatest importance dates back to 852 B.C. – when it became the seat of the Saracen power – and to 885 B.C. – when it became the residence of the Byzantine governor. In 1071 it was conquered by Robert Guiscard and this was the town where Peter the Hermit supported the First Crusade in 1095. In the XIV century it became an independent duchy and in 1558 it was given to Philip II of Spain and Naples by Bona Sforza.
Bari, which is situated on a small peninsula overlooking the Adriatic Sea, consists of two parts, the narrowly-built old town on the peninsula exposed to the North, and the new town exposed to the South. The former boasts some important historical monuments such as:
– St. Sabinus Cathedral, begun in 1035 and left incomplete till 1171. The exterior preserves the fine original architecture (the dome and the bell tower are remarkable);
– the Basilica of St. Nicola (Saint Nicholas i.e., Santa Claus) was founded in 1087 in order to receive the relics of this saint which were brought from Myra in Lycia and now lie beneath the altar of the crypt. The church is one of the four Palatine churches of Apulia. The small church of St. Gregorio, dating back to the XI century as well, is adjacent;
– the Svevo Castle (Norman-Hohenstaufen Castle), built in 1132 by the founder of the Kingdom of Sicily, the Norman king Ruggero II, and reinforced in 1233.