Built between 1469 and 1496 as a response to the earthquake that devastated the city in 1456, it is situated in the Piazza del Balio, and can be reached by crossing the curved structure created by Emperor Frederick in 1229.
The Cathedral itself was created by Ferdinand of Aragon and Alfonso II and is now surrounded by buildings that go back to the 16 th and 18 th centuries.
Divided into three parts by nimble lesene in the impressive centre, the bezel depicts a Madonna with a child on a throne surrounded by angels at her feet. Praying at her feet is the bishop Nicola Arpone, under whom the construction began. The side doors feature the lower reliefs of Saint Biagio (the city’s patron saint) and Saint John the Baptist.
The central area is dominated by a rosette, which is one of the biggest in the world. It is formed by concentric arches with ferrules adorned with floral patterns and figures of the twelve apostles.
Amongst the spaces on the columns, we catch a sight of a myriad of lunar symbols. The circular style alludes to the sun, enabling a first identification of Christ with the start from which the light comes. The concentric shape of the rosette is linked to the concept of the passing of time, expressed in the numerical symbolism of the columns that make up the two internal sections. The 24 columns of the outer circle indicate the hours of the day, while the 12 intermediate ones recall the months of the year.
Inside the Cathedral
A Latin cross style and two columnades separate the central nave from the side ones. The roof, once beamed, depicts scenes from the life of Christ and the martyrdom of Saint Orontius. To the sides are the votive chapels.
The internal style does not reflect the external one, because of the modifications that have taken place throughout the centuries.
The Palazzo del Seminario
To the right of the Cathedral is the Palazzo del Seminario. The decision to give the diocese with a seminary was taken by bishop Benedetto Melazzo in 1705 and, following a serious of construction phases, was completed in 1750 by the bishop Scoppa. At the start, the building was constructed across three floors, but it was largely demolished in the fifties, preserving some of the rooms on the ground floor and the Rococo doors, upon which noble crests are represented.
The Scoppa arch
It was built to connect the Seminary to the Bishopric building (on the other side) in 1750 by bishop Scoppa, who had it built in stone, which would replace the previous wooden bridge, just as is written in the inscription at the centre of the construction.
The Bishopric building and the Diocesan Museum
Adjacent to the Cathedral, it was built by Monsignor Giovanni Carlo Bovio around 1560 on the remains of the palace of Queen Isabella of Aragon (the daughter of the King of Naples Alfonso II).
Their noble crest is a witness to this, featured at the centre of the entrance door. In turn, the Palace of Isabella of Aragon was built upon the remains of Goffredo di Lecce’s Norman Castle built in 1148.
Currently, the Bishopric building is home to Ostuni’s Diocesan Museum, which guards the treasures of the city and its churches. Inside, you can visit the eighteenth-century hanging garden from which you can admire the grove of olive trees and the marine through small windows. More information about the museum here.