The 23 best sights of Bari – descriptions and photos
Basilica di San Nicola in Bari is of great religious importance not only for Europe, but for the Christian world in general. It is a popular pilgrimage site for adherents of the Roman Catholic faith as well as for Orthodox Christians from Eastern Europe.
Bari Vecchia (which translates simply as “Old Bari”) occupies a narrow promontory that adjoins the city port and is an atmospheric puzzle of cramped and uneven streets. Somehow, about 40 churches and more than 120 sanctuaries are squeezed into a very small area here.
Castello Svevo (Swabian Castle) was built around 1132 by the Norman ruler Roger II. In 1156 the castle was destroyed by King William I of Sicily, and then the fortress was rebuilt and strengthened in 1233 under the Roman Emperor Frederick II.
Grotte di Castellana
If you look at Italy from above, the outline of this country resembles a boot – every schoolboy knows that. There is a heel – a small peninsula, washed by two seas – the Adriatic and the Ionian.
The Cathedral of Bari
This cathedral, though less famous than St. Nicholas Basilica, is more senior than it. It was consecrated in the name of St. Sabinus, the Bishop of Canosa, whose relics were moved here in the 9th century. The present day building dates from the end of the 12th century and was built on the ruins of a Byzantine cathedral.
Pinacoteca Provinciale in Bari
The Art Gallery of Bari hides behind the impressive contrasting facade of a neoclassical palazzo. Its collection places a strong emphasis on the work of artists from southern Italy over the longest period of time.
The largest theater in Bari and the fourth largest in Italy, the Teatro Petruzzelli began its history thanks to the merchants and shipbuilders Onofrio and Antonio Petruzzelli of Trieste. The Petruzzelli brought permission from Corato to build the largest theater in Puglia.
Church of San Marco in Bari
The Church of San Marco in Bari is also called the Church of Venice, thus noting who should be thanked for its appearance. Led by Doge Pietro Orseolo II, the Venetians liberated Bari from the Saracens in 1002, which is also the date of this temple building.
The sights in Bari are enough for at least a full day of sightseeing. That’s if you stop by the Pinacoteca and get to know the local art. If you have less time, you can limit yourself to one Bari Vecchia, the Old Town, which is famous throughout the country for its labyrinth-like confusion – to explore it without the bars and stores is enough for a couple of hours.
Between the center of Bari Vecchia and the sea is the most famous church of the city, the Romanesque Basilica of San Nicola, built in the 11th century. It is considered an important pilgrimage center, not only for Catholics but also for the Orthodox. A separate chapel was built especially for them inside the crypt. The interior decoration of the church is very interesting: in particular, one can see the famous marble throne from the 11th century, created for Bishop Elias.
The streets of Bari Vecchia that are closest to the basilica are the most crowded with tourists. Here are also numerous souvenir stores. On the other side of the church begins a pleasant pedestrian street that stretches along the old city walls, overlooking the sea.
A little further away from the sea, the Old Town and the alleys of dubious reputation are a couple of pleasant squares: Piazza del Ferrarese and Piazza Mercantile.
The second most important church in Bari is the cathedral of San Sabino. It, too, is a rather massive Romanesque building that dates from the late 12th century. Nearby is Bari’s castle, Castello Svevo (“Swabian Castle”), which is remarkably well-preserved for its years. The castle can be viewed from the inside; part of its rooms are now occupied by an art gallery, including a valuable collection of plaster castings.
A little farther from the sea, the Old Town, and alleyways of dubious reputation are a couple of pleasant squares: Piazza del Ferrarese and Piazza Mercantile. It’s a good place to settle in for lunch or a cup of coffee, which many people do at tables outside. These two elegant squares are historic hubs of the city. A small column, guarded by a very formidable marble lion, is called the “Column of Justice”: at one time debtors were tied to it for whipping.
The New Town and Other Sights
Going further, you’ll move from the Old Town to the New Town. It’s not that new though: this part of Bari consists of wide streets built up in the 19th century. The most pleasant of these is the pedestrian Via Sparano, along which numerous stores are lined, including well-known brand names. If shopping does not appeal to you, it is worth visiting the eastern part of town, the Old Port (“Porto Vecchio”), especially in the morning when the fishermen are doing their usual routine.
Another city landmark that is quite far from the center but of which the inhabitants are very proud is the new futuristic soccer stadium that was designed by Renzo Piano for the 1990 World Cup. The stadium is named after St. Nicholas and is located just outside the city limits (the road to Bitritto).
Another attraction of Bari, although this statement is questioned by many, is the beach. Of course, the city itself is not a destination for beach holidays and in fact anywhere in Puglia you will find better beaches. Anyway, but the opportunity to sunbathe and swim in Bari is also there: the public beach is located in Langomare-Perotti.
The small town of Adelfia, 20 minutes from Bari, is worth visiting on the day of its patron saint, St. Tryfon. On November 9, there is a three-day festival with a giant inflatable balloon, a parade, musicians from all over Italy, fireworks, etc. in Montrone.
In the vicinity of Bari are concentrated all the attractions for which tourists usually go to Puglia. But besides Alberobello with its trullo, the cave Matera, the famous Castel del Monte, built by Frederick II on a hill, Trani with its fishing harbor and cathedral over the sea and Barletta, there are many more hidden gems around. Their charm is more subtle and their popularity much less, but that’s the payoff. Try, for example, a trip to Giovinazzo. Giovinazzo is less than 25 km from Bari and you can drive along the coast. In Giovinazzo there is a very impressive cathedral of Santa Maria Assunta built in 12-13th centuries in the typical Apulian-Romanesque style with eastern and western accents. In addition, in the town you can see a castle from the 17th century, and the view of the town itself from the water will decorate any photo collection.
23 sights of Bari with an Italian accent
In this article, I will talk about the main attractions of Bari, which is in Italy. I will give a list of popular places to stay. I will tell you what you can see in the city and its surroundings in one or two days on your own.
What sights to see in Bari and its surroundings in one day
The first thing to do upon arrival is to stroll through the classic ancient streets . Medieval architecture made of light stone, flowers and trees everywhere. It’s a very beautiful setting. Then walk to the Murat neighborhood, already built in the 19th century. It is lively. There are a lot of cafes and bars. You can grab a bite to eat and then go on your walk.
A port city in southern Italy
The entrance to the old city begins in Piazza del Ferrarese. Here St. Nicholas deserves attention. In summer it’s hot, so it’s worth walking away towards the promenade, where it’s cooler. Here is the theater of Margherita, which is built on the water. Opera lovers will be interested in the theater Petruzelli.
If you travel by car, remember, the white line is free parking, while the blue line is paid. If you decide to visit this city, there is a lot to see. A lot of old palaces, mansions, churches and comfortable park areas for recreation. It is worth to go to a museum, visit exhibitions or just go to the beach. It all depends on the desire and preference.
“If Paris had a sea, it would be a small Bari,” say the locals with the arrogance of a true southerner.
From here you can always go to other Italian cities, such as the birthplace of Romeo and Juliet in Verona, Milan or closer to the sea in San Remo. In addition it would be nice to go to the East coast of Italy: Ravenna, Padua, Trieste, and of course the magical Venice. Dive into the atmosphere of other small towns, like Perugia, Livorno or Florence.
“Fasanolandia in Fasano, Puglia, is the first wildlife park in Italy, one of the largest in Europe in terms of number (1700) and species (200) of animals
Here you can see tigers, lions, Tibetan bears and elephants, antelopes, giraffes, bison, deer, zebras, camels, enjoy the lake of pink flamingos
Located outside the city and is a park of wild animals. The total area of pheasanteland is 140 hectares. Here you can see tigers, lions, antelopes, bears, zebras, camels, and even pink flamingos. There are zoosafari, where predators freely walk around the territory. It is forbidden to get out of the car here. There are walking trails – safe for recreation. There is an amusement park, including playgrounds for children. You can book a tour from Bari.
Sassi di Matera
Elegant dwellings carved into the limestone tuff alternate with underground caves and labyrinths, forming one stunning landscape
Also a UNESCO World Heritage Site, but now in the form of historic Sassi quarters with Neolithic cave houses. Most of these houses are empty due to unsatisfactory sanitary condition. But some commercial organizations have resolved this issue and built there hotels and restaurants. The financial investment is worth it, to be in such an atmospheric place is always interesting.
Its name comes from the Latin words “arbor” and “bellum”, which translate to “tree” and “war”.
It is known for its unique trulls, which are protected by UNESCO. Outwardly, the structures resemble the dwellings of fairy tale gnomes. They are made by means of dry masonry and have a conical roof. But the main feature of this construction is that if you take out a single stone – all will collapse. It is quite cool here, as the walls are very thick. They will definitely hide from the scorching sun.
Port in Bari
The largest piece of infrastructure not only in the city, but also in the whole country. It is multifunctional and serves not only merchant ships, but also cruise ships. After an extensive renovation in 2006, the port has strengthened its position in today’s service market. Additionally, two fishing docks were equipped. Every year 2 million people are served here, a quarter of which are cruise ship passengers. There is a picturesque view of the Adriatic Sea. It is possible to book a sea cruise from here.
This is the “heart” of the city, where the university building, the fountain and the monument to Umberto are located. Lots of greenery and cozy places to relax. Here you can hide from the scorching sun and relax. There are a lot of cafes and restaurants here as well. Piazza Umberto is called the meeting place. Tour guides say that here you can easily meet a movie star for a cup of coffee. The place is quite atmospheric and conveys the hospitality of the townspeople.
Palazzo is located in the center of the commercial part of Bari. It is considered an exemplary piece of commercial architecture of the twentieth century. Inside expects a large space with high ceilings and internal galleries, which are arranged as a VIP box in front of the central stage. The building was built in 1926 for a textile retailer. Today, the Benetton chain store is located here.
The family of the great Italian sportsman Josi Poli bought the palace in 1947 and saved it from destruction by reconstructing it.
Architectural heritage of the city, made in the style of eclecticism and dating back to 1905. The architect of the palace was Augusto Corradini. The facade of the building looks attractive: elegant collonades, stucco and ancient statues. But there’s plenty to see inside as well. A lot of marble, complete with esoteric symbols and allegorical images. The highlight of the palace is the fireplace hall. For special guests, a room is sometimes rented here for lodging. But it is expensive. Not everyone can afford such a pleasure.
The beach “Bread and Tomato” (Pane e Pomodoro)
The beach with such a funny name is a 10 minute walk from the city center and covers a large area.
It is the main town beach, of which there are not many in Bari. It is sandy. It’s a 15-minute walk from the old town. Entrance is free. It has a beautiful view of the sea. You can relax with children. At the edge of the coastal zone is shallow. There are numerous comfortable hotels and hotels in the area.
The Niccolò Piccini Theater is considered the oldest theater in Bari. It dates from 1728-1800 and is dedicated to the famous composer thanks to whose prefecture it was erected. The history of the city’s theater companies is interesting. Because previously they did not have a special building for performances, but toured to other places. Thus, rehearsals and performances were held at the Palais des Congrès. Until at one point, a crack appeared in the building and the theaters were again left without a room. That’s when the idea of building a theater emerged. A monument to Piccini was erected in front of it.
In the Middle Ages Piazza Mercantile, in the heart of Bari, occupied a special place in the life of the city
This square today is the social living room of Bari, allowing you to reach the old town along the avenue Vittorio-Emmanuel or the Emperor Augustus promenade
The square allows you to walk through the old streets of the city. In the old days it was the commercial heart of the city. The city authorities are constantly trying to maintain the previously erected buildings in pristine condition. This is why the mansions and the rest of the architectural heritage of Bari are constantly being restored. This is evident in the Palazzo del Cedile, where the local aristocrats liked to congregate. It was there that Bari’s most important decisions were previously made.
The theater building has been located in the bay of the old port since 1914. The peculiarity of Teatro Margherita is that it is on the water. As the foundations are pile supports. The theater presents to the audience a huge number of productions, plus the exhibition “Center for Contemporary Art”. Admission is free.
Since its inception, the piazza has played an important role as it was located on a busy shopping road
The square bears the name of the birthplace of the Ferreres merchants. In the 16th century, the main trade route ran here. There is still a fragment of that ancient road. Walking around the square you can visit the fish and grocery market, exhibitions of contemporary art. From here you can see the panorama of the old port and coastal area.
The Aqueduct Palace
The idea of bringing water to Puglia from elsewhere through the Apennine tunnel was realized in the daring Aqueduct project
It was built under the direction of Duilio Cambellotti in 1932 to celebrate the unrivaled wealth of the earth with water
The first streams of clear water entered the region in 1915, giving life to more than 400 settlements in the region
The largest reconstruction of an ancient European waterway, built back in 1932. Drinking water used to be a huge luxury. People collected rainwater and suffered from it. There were entire epidemics due to the lack of the right degree of purification. Today, everything in the palace: walls, ceiling, floor and even windows contain elements of decoration related to water. Entrance to the territory of the castle is free. You can visit the various excursions.
Aldo Moro University
It was founded in 1925 and today there are over 60,000 students studying at its campuses in Bari, Brindisi and Taranto
The University was built in 1925 and is named after the famous politician and Prime Minister of the country. The main building is considered a masterpiece of Italian architectural heritage. Today the institution has over 70,000 students. The university has about 20 research centers working in 12 different areas. The library is one of the largest in Italy and is definitely worth seeing. There are more than 10,000 books in the library.
The Old City of Bari (Barivecchia) is the oldest part of the city and is characterized by narrow, winding streets planned in such a way as to confuse enemies as much as possible.
The small square of the Old Town has about 40 churches and 120 shrines. Particularly popular is the ancient castle, which used to be the dwelling place of Isabella of Aragon. Once the walls of the castle were washed by the sea. Today between them is a wide street. In addition, here you can look at the architecture of many palaces and castles, which today are private property.
The Castle of Bari
Castello Zvevo, also known as Swabian Castle, is a castle located in the Apulian city of Bari
Swabian Castle was built in the 12th century to host a variety of cultural events, such as exhibitions. It is surrounded on all sides except the north by a moat. On the other side it adjoins the sea and is provided with bastions. Here you can admire the original Norman design. And the two towers, built by the Vikings, are still preserved today.
Art Museum of the province of Bari (Pinacoteca provinciale)
The museum opened in 1928. Popular thanks to the paintings of masters of the 12-18 centuries. The exhibition has several sections:
Medieval painting; Venetian school of the 15th-16th century; Neapolitan direction; iconography; paintings of modern times and more.
The highlight is a statue of Jesus Christ carved out of wood, which dates back to the 12th century.
The temple complex includes the Church of the Holy Apostles Peter and Paul in the 12th century, the Church of the Holy Great Martyr Barbara in the 18th century, and the enclosed buildings: the “Orthodox book” store, workshops, service rooms
The museum was opened in 1875 and is located in a new part of the city. It keeps a huge number of exhibits of the administrative region of Puglia. It concerns bronzes and pottery. Tours of the museums are by appointment for the reason that it is on the eve of relocation.
The Italian theater with a seating capacity of 2192 spectators was built at the turn of the 19th and 20th centuries from the money of the merchants and shipowners of Trieste Petruzzelli.
The theater building was designed by the engineer Angelo Messeni. Its construction was completed in 1903. Not only opera and ballet performances were held here, but also concerts of famous performers. Herbert von Karajan, Rudolph Nureyev, Frank Sinatra, Ray Charles, Liza Minnelli, Juliette Greco, Riccardo Muti, Luciano Pavarotti have been on stage.
Cattedrale di San Sabino
Dates back to the turn of the 12th/13th centuries. Built in the Apulcan-Romanesque style – as restrained as St. Nicholas Basilica
The cathedral is the site of the relics of St. Savin. The building was erected as early as the 12th century during the collapse of the Byzantine Empire. Since then, the cathedral has been rebuilt many times and only in 1950 was it restored to its original exterior. Here you can also worship the icon of Madonna Hodegetria.
Russian Church in Bari
Since ancient times Orthodox people have visited the southern city of Bari to worship the relics of St. Nicholas, the most revered saint in the Orthodox world
The Russian Orthodox Church was designed by the architect A.V. Shchusev. The building was completed after World War I. The Russian church consists of a house for pilgrims and the church of St. Nicholas the Wonderworker. The Russian church is not the Basilica of St. Nicholas. They are in different locations several kilometers apart. In the first case, it is a Catholic, and in the second, an Orthodox church.
St. Nicholas Museum (Museo Nicolaiano).
Founded just recently, it opened its doors to interested visitors and pilgrims in February 2010
The museum was opened near the basilica in 2010. Visits are daily. Audioguide services are available in several languages. Many exhibits related to the religious activities of Nicholas the Wonderworker are located here:
icons; documentation; paintings; church decorations; vestments and more.
These items allow you to learn more about not only the saint, but also about Byzantium itself and its religious history.
Basilica di San Nicola
The place for the construction of the temple was chosen in the center of the city in the “Catapenal citadel” (a place for official events and ceremonies)
When the relics of Saint Nicholas were brought to Bari on May 22, 1087, Duke Roger I of Borsa and Archbishop Urson were in Rome for the coronation of Pope Victor III
The Catholic Basilica has housed the relics of Saint Nicholas of Myra since 1087. The building has three naves ending in apses. The temple has a rectangular form and is divided into three pilasters from the façade. Since 1969, the Orthodox faithful are allowed to have a service in the crypt. Every Thursday services are held according to the “Byzantine-Russian rite”. At the same time, a special window opens, allowing the relics to bow.