What to see in Puglia? Interesting sights and places in the south of Italy
Puglia is a southern region of Italy, which annually attracts thousands of tourists from all over the world. The large number of attractions attract people who prefer active recreation to passive. Due to the warm Mediterranean climate and a lot of sandy beaches, it has long formed a world famous resort.
The main attractions of Puglia
Puglia consists of 6 provinces, each of them has many cultural and architectural monuments, which are worth seeing. Many of these sites are listed as UNESCO World Heritage Sites.
Puglia is located in the heart of the Mediterranean, where several ancient civilizations originated.
Castel del Monte
One of the most famous medieval castles in the world. It was built by Frederick the Second Hohenstaufen in 1240. The construction lasted 10 years. The architecture of the castle is based on an octagon. This shape have and towers and the outer walls and courtyard. Because of its appearance, it was called the Crown of Puglia.
It is still unknown what function the castle fulfilled, as it had no moat, no rampart and no drawbridge. From the outside the two-storey structure looks simple and uncluttered. The interior rooms are ornate and richly furnished, which calls into question the purpose of this castle as a “hunting lodge”.
Sanctuary of Archangel Michael
One of the oldest pilgrimage sites. It is a natural cave in Mount Gorgano, located in the province of Foggia. It is said that in the 5th century there were three apparitions of the Archangel Michael who proclaimed that a temple should be built in the cave and then personally consecrated it. In the 17th century, the Archangel Michael supposedly came down to earth again to stop the spread of the plague in the region.
At the approach to the sanctuary, a chapel was built by order of Emperor Frederick II. In the cave there is not only an altar, built according to legend by the Archangel himself, but also other relics. The most famous are the silver cross with fragments of the Holy Cross, the altar of the Holy Mysteries and Our Lady of Perpetual Help, and the tabernacle with statues of the saints.
Grotte di Castellana cave complex
It is a karst cave discovered in 1938, located in the province of Bari. The largest underground grotto in Italy has an accessible length of 3 kilometers. Different in shape and size halls contain many stalactites and stalagmites. For the convenience of visitors laid paths and artificial lighting.
In the most beautiful cave of the complex, called the White Cave, the lighting is arranged so that it creates an amazing effect of floating.
There are two sightseeing routes, small and large, respectively 1 and 3 km long. After the tour you can visit a small thematic museum.
Located on the southern tip of Puglia. A long coastline abounds with numerous beaches. There are also many grottoes and underground caves to visit. There are especially many in the resort of Santa Cesaria, known for its mineral waters.
The most visited towns on the peninsula are:
- Otranto. This city has the largest defensive castle in southern Italy. It protected the southern regions from the Turkish raids. There is also a famous cathedral with the remains of martyrs killed by the Ottomans in the 15th century.
- Lecce. Wears the name “Southern Florence.” Baroque architectural style is present in most buildings of this city. The most famous is the Basilica of Santa Croce.
- Gallipoli. It is located on a small island. It is connected to the mainland by a bridge. For the construction of ancient buildings, cathedrals and churches in this city white limestone was used. The majolica technique is widely used in the decoration of buildings.
- Brindisi. The city was founded by the Greeks in the 8th century B. C. There are many sights, including two castles: Alfonsino and Swabian, as well as Roman columns and imperial baths.
- Taranto. A beautiful green city, rich in sights. There are many palaces, museums and churches. The most famous is the Castle of Aragon, built at the end of the 15th century by order of Ferdinand the Second.
Gargano and Vieste
The Gargano Peninsula is located in the western part of Puglia. In contrast to the flat, hilly Salento, this stretch of land has mountains. Therefore, the winds here are not as piercing. A large part of Gargano is a National Park. It includes the Tremiti Archipelago Reserve. Here you can see the magnificent seabed and many caves.
The region has many small towns with unique architecture and a mass of attractions. Local beaches are becoming increasingly popular. The most famous is the town of Vieste with its bizarre rocks, rugged grottoes, and sandy beaches.
Located in the province of Bari, Marchione Castle differs from its many counterparts in that it is active. Meetings, conferences, and wedding celebrations are held here. The staff of the castle is responsible for the whole process of providing services.
The castle was built on the site of a hunting lodge and served as a summer residence for Prince Giulio IV de Acquaviva in the 18th century. The building was then abandoned and fell into disrepair. The castle was restored by Princess Julia Acquaviva d’Aragona at the beginning of the last century.
The main attraction of this town, located near Bari, is the Castle of Conversano. The building is situated on an elevated site and offers an excellent view of the town and the coast. Originally built as a fortress, the castle over the centuries has been remodeled and decorated for comfortable living.
The work on the castle was completed at the end of the 19th century. At the moment, part of the castle belongs to the municipality and in it is arranged an art gallery. Another part of the castle is in private ownership.
This town is the capital of the Puglia region. To see it from above, just climb to the observation deck of Swabian Castle, built in 1131 for protection from enemies. There is also a collection of Italian sculptures and a gunpowder warehouse.
But the main attraction of the city is the Basilica of St. Nicholas, which houses the relics of Nicholas the Wonderworker. You should also visit the Aqueduct of Puglia. This building is quite young, it was built at the beginning of the last century, but it is one of the most beautiful sights of Bari.
Beautiful and interesting places of Puglia
For tourists interested in the culture and history of the country, the region of Puglia stands out brightly among other regions of Italy. It has many objects of both the Middle Ages and the Baroque period, each town in Puglia is unique and distinctive in its own way:
- Polignano-a-Mare. The town is located on steep cliffs, riddled with caves and grottoes. The town’s beach is sandwiched between two cliffs. The old part of town with the city cathedral, church and crypt (tomb) is reminiscent of the Middle Ages. The doors and staircases are scrawled with the poems of singers and poets. In the summer, there is an international competition in jumping into the sea from the rocks.
- Trani. The cultural center of Puglia, its oldest capital. It attracts wealthy tourists. The main attraction of the city is the cathedral of St. Nicholas the Pilgrim who ended his life here. The temple of white limestone was completed by 1143.
- Monopoli. A small cozy town with its fortress, church of the Savior, clock tower and other monuments. There are a lot of authentic churches. But the most famous is the church of Our Lady, the patroness of the city.
- Ostuni. The white-washed city is built of limestone. Religious temples and houses of the rich people are made in warmer colors. The most popular are the Assunta Cathedral, made in late Gothic style, and the Rococo church of St. Vité Martire. The monastery attached to the church houses the Museum of Prehistoric Civilizations.
- Locorotondo. The layout of the town is in the form of a ring, which is reflected in the name “Round Place”. There are many balconies of different shapes on the buildings, which, combined with a lot of arches and picturesque lanterns, makes the town one of the most beautiful places in Italy.
- Bovino. There are 800 stone portals in this cobblestone town. The massive Count’s Palace of Castello Ducale is located on a hill. It houses the parish museum with a small art gallery. But the main attraction is the Romanesque-style concathedral basilica.
- Specchia. In this place you will not find any modern buildings. The city seems to be frozen in the Middle Ages. In the center there is the Castle of Risolo, the Church of Matrici and the former monastery of the Black Franciscans. The town is famous for its delicious olive oil produced from local olives.
- Barletta. One of the oldest centers of winemaking. The Swabian castle here looks very recent, although it is already 10 centuries old. In the castle you can visit a museum and a library. Opposite is the cathedral of Santa Maria Maggiore, a little younger, but also remembering the crusades. Also famous is the Basilica of the Holy Sepulchre in the Romanesque style.
- Alberobello. A distinctive feature of this town are snow-white houses with conical roofs – trulli. In the 17th century a tax was imposed on all buildings in this region, and since the roofs of Trulli houses were laid dry, without any mortar, it was easy to destroy them. This was what the peasants took advantage of before the inspection arrived to avoid paying the tax.
- Valle d’Itria. The valley of Itria is located in central Puglia. It is a very picturesque place with endless farm fields, among which nestle fabulous trulli houses. The main towns in the valley are Ostuni, Cisternino, Locorotondo and Martina Franca.
- Isole Tremiti. The community is located in the Adriatic Sea and is represented by 5 islands, 2 of which are inhabited. It is primarily a great place for divers and lovers of quiet holidays. From the architectural monuments in the presence of the Abbey of Santa Maria a Mare and the tower of San Nicola. The symbol of the largest island is the lighthouse of San Domino.
- Egranation. An ancient Roman town abandoned in the Middle Ages. It is located between Bari and Brindisi. Through this city passed one of the main antique roads of Rome, which was called the Appian Way. The length of this road is 570 km and its width is 4 m.
- Grottaglie. Wears the name “City of Ceramics”. In more than 50 stores carved into the rock, you can buy a variety of pottery and see the very process of making pottery. In some places there are even preserved ancient furnaces.
Attractions of Puglia on the map of Italy
Make the best itinerary for visiting the sights of Puglia, as we’ve shown below on the maps:
Location of the main sights of northern Puglia: 1 – Castel Del Monte; 2 – Sanctuary of Michael the Archangel; 3 – Vieste; 4 – Bari; 5 – Trani; 6 – Bovino; 7 – Barletta. Location of the main attractions in southern Puglia: 1 – Grotte di Castellana; 2 – Otranto; 3 – Lecce; 4 – Gallipoli; 5 – Brindisi; 6 – Taranto; 7 – Marchione Castle; 8 – Conversano; 9 – Polignano a Mare; 10 – Monopoli; 11 – Ostuni; 12 – Locorotondo; 13 – Specchia; 14 – Alberobello; 15 – Egranazione; 16 – Grottaglie.
Where to rest and what else to see for the tourist?
Puglia is rich not only in sights. Long coastline abounds with sandy beaches, in some places for recreation built special tourist villages. Book a boat excursion, you can see the caves and grottoes, and nature lovers can visit the two National Parks.
Thanks to the mild climate and the duration of the holiday season – from May to September inclusive, this region attracts many tourists. This has given rise to a large number of resort towns with developed infrastructure. The most famous are Vieste, Marina di Andrano, Gallipoli, Ostuni and others.
For beach holidays suit Gargano, Solento and the area south of Bari. For diving lovers, Polignano-a-Mare and Margherita di Savoia. You can improve your health at the thermal resorts of Santa Cesaria and Torre Canne. If you are interested in a place where the Adriatic Sea and the Ionian Sea meet, you can visit Santa Maria de Leuque.
Hotels by the sea
A huge choice of places to stay, from campsites to individual villas. On the coast there are many tourist villages with complexes of villas and apartments. They are usually provided without meals, but have small equipped kitchens.
Problems with ordering rooms in hotels should not arise. You should only book hotels in Brindisi beforehand during religious holidays, when many pilgrims flock there.
In Puglia there are many different types of beaches, from sandy to rocky:
Attractions in Puglia
Cathedral Grotta Palazzese Grotta Castellana Castel del Monte Marina di Pulsano San Sabino Cathedral Peschici Beach Torre Chianca Porto Cesareo
The site contains the sights of Puglia – photos, descriptions and tips for travelers. The list is based on popular travel guides and is presented by type, name and rating. Here you can find answers to questions: what to see in Puglia, where to go and where are the popular and interesting places of Puglia.
The cathedral in Otranto was built on the site of an early Christian church in an ancient Roman settlement. This concentration of different cultural and religious traditions could not fail to leave its mark on the later buildings of the city.
The harmonious combination of different architectural styles of the cathedral, the unique mosaic floor made of multicolored smalt, richly decorated wooden ceilings bear in itself features of both Byzantine and early Christian, Romanesque trends. The main nave of the cathedral is framed by granite columns topped with capitals. The crypt is entered through staircases and inside the crypt there are also numerous columns of different kinds of marble.
In the small old town of Polignano, the sea has created numerous grottos in the limestone rocks right under the houses. In the largest of these grottoes the Duke de Leto held lavish receptions for his guests as early as 1700. Today this grotto houses the beautiful Grotta Palazzese restaurant.
The decorators preserved the ceiling and walls of the cave in their original form, creating an atmosphere of adventure and maritime romance. From the terrace of the restaurant, located at a height of twenty-five meters, there is a magical view of the blue waves of the Adriatic Sea. The restaurant offers its guests classic Mediterranean cuisine with a noticeable emphasis on seafood. Try the Thai calamari or grilled shrimp.
The restaurant belongs to the hotel of the same name located on the cliff above the restaurant.
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The Castellana Grottoes are the most famous speleological complex in Italy. The entrance to the first cave 60 meters deep, called popularly “the Abyss” (in Italian “la grava”), is a hole in the ground.
In ancient times, the local population believed that this is where the gates of hell are located. But in fact, these fears were easy to explain. Sometimes lost animals would fall down the precipice into the abyss and die at the bottom. Naturally there was a pungent, unpleasant smell that spread everywhere and could be felt even at the entrance to the cave. The peasants saw a mystical meaning in this, certain that they could smell the stench of the devil.
The caves were first studied by the speleologist Franco Anelli, who came down here in 1938. He discovered huge stalagmites at the bottom of the cave. They were called “cyclopes” because of their bizarre shape. Then the entrance opened into a long underground corridor, in which grottoes of incredible beauty were found. In the grottoes, stalactites and stagmites grow everywhere, forming a magnificent landscape with bizarre natural sculptures of crystals.
Coordinates : 43.86522800,12.68920900
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Castel del Monte
A thirteenth century architectural monument, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. One of the most famous and mysterious castles in the world.
The mystery of Castel del Monte is that it is still not known exactly for what purpose it was built by Emperor Frederick II. This structure is not a castle in the full sense: it lacks a moat, rampart and drawbridge, no premises for supplies, stables or a separate kitchen. Historians assume that the building was intended as a hunting lodge, but for this purpose it is too richly decorated inside.
The architectural shape of the castle is interesting. It is a regular octagon. At the corners of the castle are towers, also built in the form of octagons. The height of the main octagon is 25 meters, and the height of the towers is 26 meters. Exactly half the height along the perimeter is a small ledge separating the floors. The main entrance of the castle faces east.
The castle is built so that the sunlight penetrates it at certain times of the day, depending on the time of year. In this regard, scholars believe that the top floor of Castel Del Monte is a huge hourglass, and the first floor is a solar calendar. That is, the castle can be seen as a single astronomical device.
Coordinates : 41.08569100,16.27079500
Marina di Pulsano
A small Italian town Marina di Pulsano is located in the province of Taranto. Here vineyards and olive trees make up the bulk of the delightful scenery. The sandy beaches of Marina di Pulsano are surrounded by picturesque cliffs.
There are a large number of interesting cultural sites related to the history of the city. Churches, museums, monasteries, mansions and castles are certainly worth seeing. The main source of income of the city is tourism. There are many different hotels, water parks, nightclubs, restaurants where you can taste the great dishes of traditional Italian cuisine.
San Sabino Cathedral
The Cathedral of San Sabino is the main Roman Catholic church in Bari and is dedicated to St. Savino, the bishop of Canosa, whose relics are housed in the church.
The cathedral was built at the turn of the twelfth and thirteenth centuries on the ruins of the cathedral of the Byzantine Empire, which was destroyed by William I the Evil – the King of Sicily. The cathedral was rebuilt and modified many years in a row, only in the 1950s it was restored to its original Romanesque appearance.
The facade of the cathedral with three portals is decorated by a circular rosette window, above which there is a lintel with images of mythical creatures. The stone bell tower of the cathedral was erected recently. Its dome is characterized by Arabian motives.
There are three aisles inside the cathedral which are separated from each other by 16 columns with arcades. In the crypt of the church rest the remains of Saint Savin. There is also an icon of Madonna Hodegetria which was brought here from the East in the VIII century.
Peskici Beach is a city beach of the popular resort of the same name. This beach has been repeatedly awarded the Blue Flag (this flag is awarded to those beaches where the water meets high quality standards and is suitable for safe bathing).
It is a beautiful beach with soft golden sand, very wide and long. Near the beach there is a marina and a long pier for mooring boats. The sea here is blue, crystal clear, with sandy bottom and a gentle slope of the bottom. It is ideal for swimming and bathing. The beach is well equipped, offering opportunities for various water sports.
The town of Peskici sits on top of a karst cliff that rises more than a hundred meters above the Adriatic Sea. From here you have a stunning view of the beautiful bay, one of the most photographed bays in Europe, of which the beach is a part.
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Beach Torre Chianca Porto Cesareo
The beach of Torre Chianca Porto Cesareo is near the seaside district of Torre Lapillo, a former fishing village built around a 16th century coastal tower, built by the will of Charles V to protect against Saracen incursions.
It is a beautiful beach with soft white sand and a long coastline, which has some rocky areas and is fringed with dunes and dense shrub vegetation. The sea in this area is very beautiful, turquoise in color, with clean and very clear water. The sea bottom is sandy and gently sloping.
The sea near the beach is not very deep and in some places there are some shoals. Many areas of the coast are free, others are equipped with sun loungers, umbrellas and offer a wide range of tourist services. The beach is often crowded during the hot season (late July – August).
Coordinates : 40.45987900,18.21270800
The most popular attractions in Puglia with descriptions and photos for every taste. Choose the best places to visit famous places of Puglia on our website.
More Puglia sights
Castle of Trani, Bari, Italy Central Square of Trani, Barletta, Italy Cathedral of Trani, Barletta, Italy Beach of Campomarino, Taranto, Italy Castle of Barletta, Bari, Italy Beach of Pulsano Silvana, Taranto, Italy