Experience

MONOPOLI: A JOURNEY INTO NATURE

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The etymology of the name of this UNIQUE city derives from the Greek language. Monos-polis, in fact, means unique and singular city. The person who decided to named it this way, pictured it right.

Still today it is a unique city in a certain way, expecially regarding its tourist offer. The sea is its principal and natural attraction, but there is also a charming countryside, with 99 districts that gently range over the Adriatic “Murgia” hills. The lovers of the sea will be astonished about this city: small inlets with the finest sand in the “Capitolo” area where, apart from having a bath during summer evenings, the “movida” aggregates and amuses all the young people.

Its historical centre, thanks to the worthy public and private money contribution, has recently been restored to its original splendour. You can experience it lightened by the small stores and restaurants, stopping in its redesigned squares as open air living rooms, walking through its “chiancarelle” paved alleys and visiting its small and big churches that recall the ancient religious soul of its community. In its countryside you’ll enjoy the beauty of its white “masserie” (fortified rural settlements) and its incredible century-old olive trees. Trees like monuments that mother nature and time turned into absolute masterpieces. The rocky churches deserve a particular mention.

They are carved into the rocks, simply frescoed places surrounded by an intimate and ancient faith. Wonderful sites that constitute an inestimable heritage for their number and beauty. This is what Monopoli offers to those who are willing to experience a “unique” vacation.

Monopoli is also an industrial centre, well-known for the production of concrete and pottery. It has a small artificial port and is an important seaside resort. The origins of the town are still uncertain, although some experts think that it was a Greek centre. It was first mentioned at the end of the VIth century when Egnazia was destroyed and its inhabitants took refuge in Monopoli. During Middle Ages it became an important maritime and commercial centre which was destroyed by the Byzantines in 1042. Then the Normans conquered the town and the Counts of Conversano built St.Stephen’s Abbey. In the XIth century Monopoli became the bishop’s seat. The independent free city of Monopoli lasted until the beginning of the Swabian rule. Ferdinand II, king of Naples, ordered the Venetians to conquer the town in 1496 and Monopoli fell under the Venetian government until the beginning of the XVIth century, when it passed into the hands of the Spanish.

The Cathedral dates back to the XIIth century but it was restored in the XVIIIth century. It is flanked by a fine belltower in Baroque style. lnside there are excellent paintings and the capitolar archive. We can admire many paintings by Palma the Young and the the “Madonna della Madia'”s canvas which, according to legend, was brouht here on a raft from

Orient. The church is considered one of the most outstanding Baroque buildings in the region. The Castle is noteworthy as well: it is located near the port and was built by Frederick II, then restored. We can also admire the Romanesque church of St. Mary of Amalfi, founded at the beginning of the X/IIth century; traces of the mediaeval sanctuary can be found on the right side of the building, in the fine apse and the restored interior with one nave and two aisles divided by pillars; the crypt is an ancient basilian church. In Via S.Domenico 73 the Xlth –century rupestrian church of the Madonna del Soccorso is noteworthy. Some paintings by Veronese, Palma the Young, L. Bastiani and the School of Naples can be found in the Bishop’s residence.

Excursions on the road to Brindisi, the Monopoli coast offers a view of superb cliffs and small beaches crowded with bathers during the summer. Before reaching Capitolo, a resort town, we can admire St. Stephan’ s former Abbey. Several rupestrian churches are scattered throughout Monopoli’s countryside: St Cecily’s, St. Bartolomeo in Palude, St. Angelo. Besides the large number of sea caves (Caves of Mura), in St. Lucy’s quarter we can find the entrance of a karst formation with interesting concretions.