The tombs found within the urban area suggest the presence of an ancient Apulian settlement which was probably repopulated in the Middle Ages by the inhabitants of Egnazia, which had been completely destroyed.
The tombs found within the urban area suggest the presence of an ancient Apulian settlement which was probably repopulated in the Middle Ages by the inhabitants of Egnazia, which had been completely destroyed. The town was a thriving seaport in Byzantine and Norman times, although its strategic position made it the regular attacks by pirates.
A bishopric since the 11th century, Monopoli was occupied by the Venetians in 1456 and 50 years later by the Spaniards who reinforced its castle.
The clearly medieval old quarter is still surrounded by the bastion built by the Aragonese to protect the town against raiders from the sea.
Monopoli underwent further development in the Baroque period when several churches were built or restored, like the Cathedral, and the town was enriched by a series of noble mansions like the grand palace of the Palmieri family.
The Cathedral was founded in 1107 but entirely rebuilt in the 18th century.Its facade provides a spectacular backdrop to the square, which was also laid out in the 1700s in a tipically Baroque style. The Cathedral holds a number of valuale paintings by Carlo Rosa, Francesco de Mura and Palma the Younger.The elegant belfry with projecting stringcourses marks the town’s silhouette. The Sacristy of the Cathedral houses a small museum containing fragments of the sculpted decorations of the earlier Romanesque church including a beautiful archivolt adorned with 12 angel heads.
The Castle dates back to the days of Aragonese rule and overlooks the coast near the port. It has a polygonal shape with a round keep. Among the many churches the most notable are Chiesa del Purgatorio, S. Domenico, S. Angelo and Santa Maria Amalfitana; the latter was built in the 12th century on the site of an earlier cave settlement. It features a fine Baroque facade ,while the interior, the side walls and the apse belong to its original structure.
Interesting cave churches can be visited in the environs of Monopoli as wall as some fortified farms called Masserie. The frescoed Crypt of San Procopio in the locality called Assunta in one of the most beautiful underground churches in the region. According to an inscription at the entrance it was built by Deacon Giovanni in 12th century. An outer staircase with several flights a loggia with three arches and a lovely chapei mark the appearance of Masseria Spina along the provincial road to Bari. Not far from this farm lies Masseria Spina Piccola protected by walls befitting a true seventeenth-century fort.
This itinerary many end with a stop at the beach of S. Stefano called after the Benedictine Abbey founded in this place in 1086 by Geoffrey de Hauteville.