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Via Venezia


Via Venezia - 6010 - 70122
Beginning of construction IV century BC
Current use Street
Via Venezia, the so-called "Muraglia-Wall" of Bari, is a must for locals, visitors and tourists who want to enjoy a pleasant stroll and admire almost the entire seafront of Bari.
From here where the sea meets the land the Baresi have lived through historical moments of both joy and worry. They have been attacked and witnessed the approaching Turks and pirate ships, yet it’s here that they have also greeted friends and laughed at their enemies.
On entering Piazza Ferrarese, passing the fish market on your right, you can get to Via Venezia (to the south), which via a ramp, made by destroying part of the old wall, it gradually makes it way towards the Fortino of Saint Antonio Abate. These ramparts together with the Fort of St. Scolastica (to the north), are the only ones to have survived the campaign of demolition in the 1800s, which led to the destruction of the other two original towers of Saint Dominic and del Vento.
The south side of the Wall is adorned, at the base, by a series of aligned columns salvaged from Roman temples and buildings, including one purchased by Isabella Sforza, from the church of Saint Gregory de Falconibus, and the milestone n. 128 of Via Traiana that, connecting Benevento to Brindisi, passed through Bari.
The noble buildings (eg. palazzo Tanzi) and public housing with courtyards, alleys and stairs which line the road are occasionally interspersed by the static nature of the walls.
Going north you can clearly see the outline of the Basilica of Saint Nicholas (on the left there’s a staircase which accesses the Strada Palazzo di Città, which initially runs along the eastern side of the Basilica itself) and on the right the modern seafront can be seen, built in 1931 which runs up to the ramparts of St. Scolastica (on the right, at the end of the walk , steps take you to the seafront Emperor Augustus; once you leave it and head to the left you reach the entrance of the Archaeological Museum St. Scolastica), the most impressive part of the Great Wall, built in the time of Bona Sforza .
The Fort of St. Scolastica up to the castle walls, was abruptly destroyed in the thirties along with the 13th century "Porta di Mare", and can now be reconstructed hypothetically.
Of the oldest part of the city wall which we have left, only faint traces remain from the fourth century BC, but of the imposing medieval setting, which maintained its integrity until the early nineteenth century, survives in a stretch of four hundred metres separating the old town and the waterfront and continues to pose a severe warning for those visiting Bari, the ancient Queen of the Adriatic.
Beginning of construction IV century BC
End of construction XI century AC
The walls of Bari which we know date back to the fourth century B.C. are referenced by Orazio in the famous Satira V ("Bari moenia piscosi"), Tacito in his Annals and by the monk Bernardo, who, coming from Mount Gargano and travelling to the Holy Land, arrived in the mid-ninth century in "Bari of the Saracens", and could not fail to mention the two long walls that encircled the city.
The medieval walls withstood the sieges of the Saracens (1003 - driven by the intervention of the Doge Pietro Orseolo II) and of Robert Guiscard (1071).
The Marquis Carlo Gambacorta, head of one of the fortification plans of Bari between 1598 and 1599, has given us an important testimony of the evolution of the city wall, which in the final years of century reached 1.2 kilometres in length with semi-circular towers and four rectangular ramparts at the ends.
The ancient walls, were restored and rebuilt between the 15th and 16th centuries (in this period the city wall was equipped with a tower erected on the site of a previous church dedicated to Abbot Saint Antonio, which still gives its name to the "Fortino" overlooking the sea). The walls were so impressive that Bona Sforza, on her arrival in Bari in 1556, used them as a "bridge" to reach the castle.
In his depiction of the City of Bari, V. Lapegna in 1770, shows the contemporary features of the impressive walls which snake around the city interspersed with four towers and two gates to the city: Porta Vecchia and Porta Nuova.
La Porta Vecchia was built near the Svevo castle, made with a single archway inspired by the design of the triumphal Roman Empirical arches, which connected via Gellia to via Traiana.
Unfortunately, it was demolished along with a part of the Hospital "degli Svizzeri" and part of the wall on the land side in 1819. The only remaining feature was the emblem of Saint Nicholas, which is now kept in the courtyard of the castle, as well as the testimony of Beatillo stating that: Artusio Pappacoda urbis praesidia tenente, ad pacis et belli usum condita MDLI.
The Porta Nuova or of Lecce was most probably built in 1612 to create an entrance directly to the commercial area of the city. According to Giulio Petroni the plans were made by Engineer P. Castiglione, with entablatures containing four circles, each with the pictures of Iapige, Barione, a Roman coin (the symbol of Bari) and an inscription by King Filippo III.
The demolition which didn’t leave any trace of the Porta Nuova was the consequence of two factors: the building of a covered market and the continuous crimes commited under the entrance arch which led to the entrance being known as "the unfortunate" entrance.
The four hundred metres of wall which can be seen today are thanks to Murat and run from the Fortino of Saint Antonio to the building of Santa Scolastica.

Bari is an ancient city and already by the 1st century BC, in a passage from Orazio’s V satira, the wall that encircled the city was referred to (…usque Bari maenia piscosi). From the walls seen by the Latin poet, which were made a few centuries earlier to defend the peucetian cities, a stretch of a tens of metres emerged during restoration work of the monastery of St. Scolastica in the 1970s. (see chart). The construction consists of large square blocks arranged in overlapping rows in a Hellenistic matrix style, similar to other examples in Puglia (Monte Sannace, Conversano, Altamura, Manduria). Unfortunately, other parts of the wall that date back to this period did not come to light so it is not possible to determine with any certainty the extent of the ancient city, but by the findings that have emerged through several archaeological excavations it can be said that the settlement went to at least the area where the cathedral was built on around the sixth century. (see chart). For the period throughout the early medieval and medieval era where the city is always described as being well defended by sturdy walls the chronicles of sieges and descriptions by travelling pilgrims have to be trusted. This is the case for example with the notes of Monaco Bernardo around 865 whilst moving through Puglia on a pilgrimage to the Holy Land. Moving through Bari, which had been conquered by the Saracens in 847 and had become the seat of an emirate, he describes the defence of two very large walls. The Muslims held the city for 50 years and it would take a siege of three years and the army of Ludovico II to finally free Bari. Another siege, this time by the Saracens, took place in 1002 when the city resisted the attacks until the arrival of the Venetian fleet led by the Doge Orseolo II. In this case, in addition to confirming that the city walls were very efficient, we also know from the description of events, that the monastery of Saint Benedetto was positioned outside of them. This information allows us to put an exact limit of urban extension until the dawn of the year 1000. The Byzantine domination of the city (876-1071), gave it the role of capital of the "Tema di Longobardia", which led to the construction of a fortified military and administrative hub (kastron), and was the base of the Catapano (imperial official). This fenced place inside the walls contained, in addition to housing troops and officials, several churches and civil buildings. The final Norman conquest took place in 1071 with the capitulation of Bari after a three-year siege marked a profound change to the defensive structure of the city. The Byzantine kastron with all the buildings it contained, was razed to the ground to make way for the new basilica (see chart) intended to contain the miraculous bones of St. Nicola which were stolen in 1087 from the city of Myra in Lycia, in modern day Turkey. With the advent of the new conquerors the defensive hub was moved to the west, where a castle (see chart) was built from scratch outside the city walls. The situation, however, even after almost a century after the capture of the city by the Normans did not appear fully stabilized. In fact, due to continuous revolts in the towns of Puglia, Bari would see a violent crackdown by Guglielmo II known as Malo that would also destroy a large proportion of the walls. This event however proved not be fatal and after a period of neglect and abandonment the city began to repopulate and assumed an important role in trade towards the east. During the time of Federico and later Angiona the city would be provided with adequate defenses until the advent of the Aragonese who with Bona Sforza ensured the creation of new ramparts around the castle (see chart) and the building of a new city wall which was demolished in the nineteenth century.

After all these events, only the eastern stretch from Piazza Ferrarese (see chart) going up to the Fortino Sant'Antonio (see chart) and continuing to the Monastery of St. Scolastica (see chart) on the tip of the peninsula of the urban defences remain. The current view of the Wall does not do justice to the sight of those who came from the sea had right up to the 1930s. The wide road built in those years that now surrounds the old centre of Bari, although necessary for the infrastructure of the city, has completely changed the nature of the city.

The sea lapped at the base of the walls around the entire perimeter of the city on the east side and on the west where a crown of ancient monasteries (St. Scolastica, St. Peter, St. Teresa delle Donne, Saint Francis della Scarpa and Saint Claire) joined the section of wall reaching up to the castle (see Box). From the north door, adjacent to the castle, the walls cover the entire south side to the second door southbound where the remnants are visible in Piazza Ferrarese (see chart).

Since the beginning of the nineteenth century with the construction of the new port in the west of the city and with the building of the borgo murattiano the city wall was pulled down on the south side and replaced by buildings that today overlook Corso Vittorio Emanuele. Only to the east is it saved, even though a good portion was buried with the construction of the road. Urban redevelopment work has freed the bottom of the stretch from the fortino down towards piazza mercantile (see description) making the ancient part of the docks of the old port visible. (See chart).

A balcony to the sea, the ancient wall once continued past the monastery of St. Scolastica right up to the castle.
The route is punctuated by the presence of saints who protect those who sail on a daily basis: Saint Antonio Abate (near the small fort), St. Nicholas, St. Scolastica.
Many years ago, at about the halfway point, stood a small chapel called "della portella” on a small outcrop. This was where the fishermen’s wives stopped to pray and ask for protection at sea. Nowadays, a seat and a few plants mark this spot.
Although a legend, the story by Armando Perotti that shouldn’t be undervalued is that during the occupation of Bari by the Saracens, one of them, a sentinel, at the monastery of St. Benedict, on Ascension Day in the year 1002, witnessed the apparition of a star that flew through the sky from the west and fell into the sea.
The inhabitants of the city gave cognizance to Gerolamo, spiritual father of the monastery, who interpreted the incident as the protective action of Mary Help of Christians and of the upcoming liberation of Bari; from the wall they saw the approaching ships of the Venetian fleet led by doge Orseolo, whose presence was enough to repel the occupying Saracen troops.
The story goes that the doge sent messengers to Constantinople, then filled with gifts received by Catapano he returned safely to Venice.
A small controversy exists over when the exact year of the liberation of the city was, either 1002 or 1003. During that period the city was using the Byzantine dating system which had the beginning of the year as the first of September. The arrival of the Venetians was between August and September of 1002 and so happened between 1002 and 1003.

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

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