Bari is a very old city and it has its own history and attractions, which go from the rustic historical center to the elegant Murat area.
In this article, you will find some information about Bari, such as its history, its attractions, and its food.
History of Bari
A short history of Bari, from its origins to nowadays.
We don’t know the exact origins of the city, but experts have different opinions: some of them think it was founded during the age of bronze by a population called Peucetii; others think it was colonized by Crete. Later, the city was called Barë by Illyrians, which became “Barion” under the Greek domination and “Barium” under the Roman one. Romans contributed to the development of the city, thanks to Via Traiana. After the fall of the Roman Empire, Bari was disputed between Byzantines and Longobards, then it became an Arabic emirate. It was short, as in 875 it was back under Byzantine rule.
It was the last Byzantine domination in Italy, because in 1068 it was occupied by the Normans and it became one of the harbors from which ships were sailing for the Crusades. Furthermore, in Bari there was the Council of Pope Urban II regarding the relationship between the Roman Church and the Orthodox one before the Great Schism.
The city reached its peak during the Swabian domination of Frederick II of Swabia. After that, there was a period of decadence and the city went under the domination of the Republic of Venice, which expanded the harbor and made Bari an important exchange point in the Mediterranean.
In the XIX century, the city grew significantly, as Gioacchino Murat encouraged the expansion outside the medieval walls. Thanks to this expansion, Bari became a cultural and institutional center, as universities and theaters were born. During the World Wars, Bari was one of the most active harbors in the Mediterranean, even though it suffered many losses.
Main attractions in Bari
Bari is a very old city and, because of that, it has many historical monuments, but also recent places of interest.
Basilica of San Nicola
The Basilica of San Nicola is one of the main attractions in Bari and it was built in order to keep the relics of the Saint. For this reason, it is visited by many Orthodox people. The church is also one of the best examples of Apulian Romanesque architecture: it has a simple and white facade and a Latin cross plan divided into three aisles. You can find more information here.
It is the oldest neighborhood in the city, built in the Middle Ages and bordered by the ancient walls and the Norman-Swabian Castle. Walking among the little streets and finding out spots of the sea or little churches in corners is the best way to enjoy this place: a place where time stopped inside those walls.
This castle was commissioned by Ruggero II of Sicily, but it was later destroyed by William I. Frederick II of Swabia built the castle again and gave it the old splendor and function. It was then expanded in the XVI century, in order to adapt it to the needs of that time. More information here.
Palazzo dell’Acquedotto Pugliese
Not far from the sea, on Via Cognetti, there is Palazzo dell’Acquedotto Pugliese, built in 1924 to host Ente dell’Acquedotto Pugliese. The peculiarity of this building stands in its external aspect, as it reminds of a fortress. Inside, there is a completely different atmosphere: in liberty style, there are many artworks whose main theme is water.
This palace is in the neighborhood of Murat, in the corner between via Sparano and via Putignani. It was built in 1928, and it had and still has a commercial purpose: it was made for the Mincuzzi family, who owned department stores, and it’s the best example of commercial architecture in Bari. Its facade presents many columns with ionian capitals who sustain a tympanum and a pediment, on which the name of the family is written. The interior is in liberty style, which you can access by big stairs.
Theater Kursaal Santa Lucia
This building is on the seafront Goffredo di Crollalanza and it functions as both a theater and a cinema. It’s realized in late liberty style and its interior has many prestigious frescoes and high-reliefs: it looks like your back in the 20s.
What to eat in Bari
The cuisine in Bari, as well as Apulian one, is famous for the high quality of the raw materials. It mainly consists of simple ingredients, such as vegetables, legumes, but also meat and fish, which are always dressed with high quality extra-virgin oil: one of the best ingredients of this cuisine.
You absolutely have to try the orecchiette, which are often served with turnip greens or ragù made with horse meat. You also have to try riso alla barese, served with potatoes and mussels. Another typical dish is cavatelli ai frutti di mare (a special kind of pasta with seafood) and polpo agli allievi, which is octopus with little squids that have to be eaten raw.
January 27th, 2021