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Church and convent of Saint Clare

Strada Santa Chiara - 6010 - 70122
Beginning of construction 1492
Current use Church
The Church of Santa Chiara (Saint Clare) is located in the old town on the corner of Strada Tresca and Strada Santa Chiara in an area overlooking the Norman-Swabian castle. The building once stood next to the city walls that branched from the castle and enclosed the old town; they were torn down in the early 1900s. The church bell tower is situated on the south side opposite the façade of the small church of San Giovanni Crisostomo (St. John Chrysostom). On the outside, the church appears simple and humble due to its tuff façade and stone portal. On the inside, however, it conceals a refined Baroque style, adorned with stucco, inlaid marble altars, and highly valuable paintings. The Baroque bell tower consists of many architectural orders and is still visible on the right of the church, though missing its characteristic onion dome, destroyed during World War II. The bell tower metaphorically acts as a hinge between the church and the adjacent convent that also functioned as a redemption house for "repented young ladies". For several years now, the old convent of the Poor Clares has played an important role in the community, operating daily as a soup kitchen for the numerous needy.
The interior of the single-nave church is embellished with eight side chapels, some with a polychromatic marble altar. A series of wooden jalousies (adjustable shutters) above the side chapels once hid from sight the cloistered nuns attending the mass celebrations. The high altar is situated in the Presbytery that is bordered by a polychromatic marble balustrade. It is the work of the architect D.A. Vaccaro who had built the Cathedral of St. Sabinus. The 18th-century paintings by the English artist P. Fabris hang on both sides of the altar, and are particularly noteworthy. The one on the left depicts St. Francis of Assisi holding a cross, while the one on the right shows St. Anthony of Padua cradling the Infant Jesus. There are two paintings on the ceiling; the central one, by Andrea Miglionico, represents the Saints in Glory, while the other, by N. Gliri from Bitonto, portrays the Transitus of St. Clare. The church also houses paintings by artists from the workshop of Titian.
Beginning of construction 1492
Previous buildings Ancient church of St. Mary of the German House
The city of Bari played an important role during the Crusades as it was a thoroughfare for Crusaders en route to Jerusalem. The constant presence of knights of all orders led the individual Orders to own and construct houses and churches. For example, the Knights Templar owned the Church of San Clemente (St. Clement) built in the harbour area; the Teutonic Knights owned Santa Maria, which they entitled “St. Mary of the German House” or “of the Teutonic Order”, as well as the adjoining Convent under the protection of the Abbey of San Leonardo (St. Leonard). In the Historia di Bari, Beatillo (a theologian, historian, and Jesuit from Bari) writes that the people of Bari were unsatisfied with the already numerous monasteries in the city, and, around the 15th century, fervently desired a convent for the nuns of Saint Clare, the so-called Poor Clares, renowned throughout the country for their strict Rule of Life. Beatillo also states that the citizens implored Duke Ludovico Maria Sforza, nicknamed “Ludovico il Moro”, for permission to build this convent in the ancient church of Santa Maria degli Alemanni (St. Mary of the German House, or of the Teutonic), at the time owned by the eponymous Order of Knights. After countless pleas, a Papal Bull by Pope Innocent VIII and a “letters of patent” by a cardinal Preceptor issued in July 1492, finally conceded to the city of Bari ownership of the church and adjoining Convent of Santa Maria for the construction of the Church and Convent of Santa Chiara. However, it was established that the nuns would have remained under the jurisdiction of the Preceptor of the time and of all his successors in years to come. The church and the adjoining convent were refurbished for the first time in 1539 at the behest of the Abbess Sveva with the financial contribution of Bona Sforza, Duchess of Bari. Subsequent restoration works on the building were carried out in 1730 under the Abbess Laura Gironda, and, in 1763, as recalled by an inscription in the church. The Poor Clares remained there until 1807, the year in which the Order was suppressed.
How do I reach downtown?
airport Airport  

From Viale Enzo Ferrari continue in the direction of Strada Provinciale 204 / Viale Gabriele d'Annunzio / SP204.
Take Viale Europa, SS16, Via Napoli and Corso Vittorio Veneto in the direction of Via Venice to Bari.
Follow Via Venezia and Largo Papa Urbano II to Piazza S. Nicola.

motorway Toll road  

From the toll booth at Bari Sud of the Autostrada A14,
Take E843, Viale Giuseppe Tatarella, the underpass Sottopassaggio Giuseppe Filippo, Via Brigata Regina.
Continue on Corso Antonio de Tullio in the direction of Via Venezia to Bari.
Follow Via Venezia and Largo Papa Urbano II to Piazza S. Nicola.

other Public Transport  

AMTAB A bus lines (rest area in Piazza Massari) #2, #10, #12/, and #35 stop near Largo Abate Elia.

park Parking lots  

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