5 places to see in Bari

5 places to see in Bari with Velo Service: here’s what you need to know, we’ll do the rest!

In Bari they say ‘If Paris was by the sea,  it would be like a small Bari’. Even though the comparison with the French capital is a bit of a leap, Bari is anyway a great city, full of things to see as well as to taste.

Here’s the 5 places to see in Bari with VeloService during a short stay, supported for the occasion by our expert tourist guides to explore the main attractions.

  1. The Basilica of Saint Nicholas

The Basilica of Saint Nicholas in Bari is one the most important and charming religious buildings in Italy. Patron Saint of Bari, important both to Catholics and Orthodox, Saint Nicholas of Myra is the bishop who, according to the legend gave origin to Santa Klaus, our ‘Babbo Natale’. His relics are housed in the crypt of this Basilica. Bari is therefore a pilgrimage destination for both Catholics and Russian Orthodox: it is indeed one of the few Italian places of worship where are celebrated both services. The Basilica of Saint Nicholas was erected to house the remains of the Saint, in 1089: today it is one of the most visited places in Puglia and is worth a visit for plenty of reasons.

It is a wonderful example of Roman style and inside you can appreciate the ceilings in golden wood featuring some 17th century paintings, the silver altar, the oldest Apulian ciborium ( the baldachin in marble over the altar), which dates back to 1150, and the Cathedral  of Elias, one of the most representative Roman sculptures in Apulia.

The treasure of Saint Nicholas, which keeps growing thanks to the believers’ gifts and votive offerings, is housed in the Nicolaiano Museum located next to the Basilica, where are gathered, among the others, silver artefacts, miniated manuscripts and precious scrolls.

2 Bari Vecchia

The district where Saint Nicholas is, “Bari Vecchia” for the Baresi People, extends between the two ports of Bari, the old and the new one, looks out over the sea, and is the historical centre of the city.

The nucleus of Bari Vecchia dates back to the Middle Ages, is surrounded with walls and dominated by the Norman Swabian Castle, which is one of the symbols of Apulia. If you get a deeper insight into this labyrinth of narrow streets,  it seems like nothing has changed: outside you can find some women making the famous ‘orecchiette’ on the pastry boards, armed only with water, semolina flour and knives, the houses, one next to the other and at every corner there are churches, landmarks and sea views.

The Basilica of Saint Nicholas is located in this area along with the Cathedral of Saint Sabinus, which dates back to 1100 and houses a precious Middle Ages illuminated codex. Taking a stroll on the ‘chianche’ ( the big paving stones) in the middle of Bari Vecchia will give you the chance to discover at least other ten churches, in a timeless atmosphere, in a place where everybody knows each other and where the “appetizing” scents coming  from the kitchens mingle with the sea breeze.

Also you cannot miss the Fortress of Saint Anthony Abate, edified in in 1300 for defensive reasons.  Bari Vecchia is not merely the core of the main attractions of Bari, but also the heart of its nightlife: at night, youngsters and families usually hang out and take a stroll along the old city walls.

3 The Sea Front Side

The seafront side of Bari was inaugurated in 1927 during the fascist period: regardless the ideologies, today it is one of the most famous promenades of the city as well as a unique occasion to see at a glance a series of late Liberty Style buildings, and at the same time, to enjoy the atmosphere of Bari, amid green parks and an incomparable view over the Adriatic. The most popular area of the seafront side includes Imperatore Augusto street, Araldo di Crollalanza street and Nazario Sauro street, from the new port to the old one. Halfway, through an arch in the old city walls  you can get into the old town, whereas on the inner side of the seafront promenade are some of the most beautiful palaces in Bari, such as the Hotel delle Nazioni, the Kursaal Santa Lucia theatre and the Provincia Palace.

4 The Norman Swabian Castle

Erected on the previous remains of the castle founded by Roger the Norman in 1131, this building was completely destroyed in 1156 and rebuilt thanks to the intervention of Frederick II of Swabian in 1223. Today, like one thousand years ago, the Norman Swabian castle stands out on the old town of Bari, protecting its main entrance and dominating the sea. Beyond its important historical value, the Castle is the seat of the Superintendence of Environmental, Architectural and Historical heritage of Apulia and one the most important Roman style landmarks in Italy. The Norman Castle of Bari. The building is made up of two distinct parts: the Keep, the one rebuilt by Frederick II, features two of the original towers, whereas the other side features the bulwarks and the other towers added in 1500. A bridge over the moat welcomes visitors at the main entrance of the castle: inside, you can find a Gothic portal and a Renaissance courtyard. On its ground floor the Castle houses a Gipsoteca featuring calques of the main landmarks of Apulia.


5 Bari Underground

For those who want to visit the city from a unique perspective and at the same time to see- first hand its incredibly rich history, Bari Underground is  a night guided tour which, together with professional archaeologists, starts in the basements of the castle and go through the underground of the whole old city. Along the way, you can reconstruct the whole city life: from its first settlement, with a hut which dates back to the Bronze Age, passing through the Roman Era and the glorious time of the Western Byzantine Empire capital, when both Christian and Byzantine churches stood at short distance from each other and all around you could find houses and shops, exactly like in today’s Bari Vecchia. The guided tour of Bari Underground makes it clear that the whole old town developed gradually on pre-existing layers: houses and churches were built on the remains of the previous ones and still today, it is possible to find tombs, pottery and old fireplaces. The grottos of the Basilica of Saint Nicholas, for example, hide an old  Paleochristian Basilica.

What to eat in Bari

The Barese cuisine is reasonably famous for the high quality of the raw materials which are always in the first place compared to the preparation of the dishes.

You will always find daily fresh fish, shellfish and crustaceans, along with seasonal vegetables and legumes and first-fruits, dressed with the fine Apulian extra- virgin olive oil, in a delicious match you can hardly forget.

It’s difficult to choose a typical dish: surely you must taste the handmade ‘orecchiette’ topped with turnip tops or with horse meat sauce, and the rice ‘alla Barese’, namely rice flavoured with potatoes and mussels. Also you cannot miss the ‘cavatelli’ with seafood and some specialties like the octopus and the ‘allievi’ ( baby cuttlefish), served raw, the sea urchins and the Barese roasted sea bream.

If you want to try out a unique, very delicious dish, our advice is that to taste the Barese ‘calzone’ filled with onions, green olives, eggs, tomatoes, anchovies and ‘pecorino’ cheese and the ‘sgagliozze’, triangles of fried Polenta. You can end your meal with the super tasty Baresi desserts: ‘bocconotti’, ‘paste reali’, ‘castegnelle’ and ‘zeppole’.

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