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Palazzo del Sedile - Clock tower

Old Town Hall

Piazza Mercantile - 6010 - 70122
Gratis - Gratis
Beginning of construction 1466
Current use Unused
Palazzo del Sedile (literally, “Palace of the Seat”), also known as Palazzo dei Nobili, (Seat of the Nobles), was once the Old Town Hall. Today, the building stands as an elegant and silent backdrop to Piazza Mercantile (Merchants’ Square), the old town’s most ancient and characteristic square. The monumental façade of this two-storey edifice looks onto this square. On the left, the building is a crowned by a clock tower housing a 1604 German-made clock that once kept the beat of the merchants’ day. A terrace tops the main building and showcases a three-arch Renaissance-style loggia, featuring a decorated ledge with allegorical female figures and busts of Roman Emperors, which were symbols of the "concordia civium" or “harmony of the citizens”.
The building was erected in 1543. Its name derives from its original function; seat of the Universitas, which corresponds to a modern-day Town Council, where delegates of the Nobles and the People met.
A 1604 German-manufactured clock was inserted into the Norman-style bell tower that sits adjacent to the main edifice; “shopkeepers considered the clock to be of great use as it struck every quarter of an hour (an absolute novelty in Apulia)”. Stefano Ferrara Fabbri commissioned the construction of the three-arch terrace in1722, for decorative purposes.
Since its construction, the building had housed a number of administrative and cultural bodies, including the merchants’ lodge, municipal government, as well as the city's first public theatre. It had been the central office for the Council of the Nobles and First Citizens, Mayors and Mastrogiurati (a kind of Sworn Deputy Marshal responsible for public safety), the Chancellery, and the Royal Council. In other words, it acted as the heart of the city’s administrative and political life up to the 18th century.
Beginning of construction 1466
Previous buildings Church of Santa Maria della Misericordia
In the second half of the 15th century, the Spaniards had yet again occupied the city of Bari. This had sparked a desire of resurgence that was reflected in the construction of the Seat of the Nobles in 1466. The building was erected upon the pre-existing church of Santa Maria della Misericordia, “St. Mary of Mercy” under the supervision of the architect Nicolantonio Buonafede. The building had been the seat of the municipal government up to 1601 when a blaze severely damaged it. The following year, it was restored, and resumed its role as a political and administrative centre up to the 18th century. Indeed, the building had housed the city chancellery, which attended to public affairs, as well as the city mayors and deputy marshals; the first used to take office there in the morning, while the latter, in the afternoon. The Handover Ceremonies between both mayors and deputy marshals were celebrated annually on 1st September (the beginning of the year according to Greek tradition), and were always full of pomp and elaborate street illuminations. The national parliament also met in the town hall, convened by the toll of the bell from St. Sabinus’s Cathedral. Consultations of the Royal Council representatives, i.e. the political power represented by the city governor (V. Melchiorre), were also held in the building.
At the beginning of the 19th century, the municipal government moved its offices to a nearby road that lead from Piazza Mercantile (Merchants’ Square) to St. Nicholas’s Basilica. This road has since been called Strada Palazzo di Città (Town Hall Road). The building, therefore, ceased to act as the Town Hall.
Subsequently, the building became the city’s first public theatre, even though it was doomed to shut down due to the opening of the Niccolò Piccinni Theatre. As a matter of fact, the public theatre eventually closed its doors in 1835 when, one evening, in the midst of a theatrical performance, the spectators left the theatre for fear that it might collapse. Palazzo del Sedile was ultimately sold to private owners.
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 Piazza Mercantile in Bari.
Continue along Lungomare Augusto Imperatore. Piazza Ferrarese is on the right.
Walk towards Piazza Mercantile

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 along Lungomare Augusto Imperatore in the direction of Piazza Mercantile in Bari.
Piazza Ferrarese is on the right.
Walk towards Piazza Mercantile

other Public Transport  

AMTAB bus lines #2, #4, #10, #12, #12/, #21, and #35 stop near Piazza Ferrarese (continue on foot to Piazza Mercantile)

park Parking lots  

Lungomare Imperatore Augusto-Corso Vittorio Emanuele