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Bari, archaeological sites and cave churches of Alta Murgia


The beautiful town of Altamura is known for its archaeological sites of great importance, such as the hollow of the dinosaurs and the caves of Altamura.

The National Archaeological Museum houses thousands of artifacts from the Paleolithic period to Late Ancient period, found in the necropolis and the archaeological sites in Altamura, Toritto, Gravina di Puglia, and other surrounding towns. There are also casts and reconstructions and temporary exhibitions and educational programs for schools are regularly organized. The museum also houses a rich library specializing in archaeological texts.

altamura cattedrale (mapio)_opt

Cathedral of Santa Maria Assunta photo mapio

The Cathedral of Santa Maria Assunta is the main place of worship of Altamura, the imposing facade is notable for its two bell towers and the central rose window. The interior is majestic, with three naves, the major altar made of marble and the ceiling decorated with gold putty. The columns have capitals of Byzantine mold. There’s also a beautiful chapel dedicated to St. Joseph in Baroque style.


The Cathedral of San Sabino dates back to the twelfth century and is a representation of the Romanesque style. In the crypt there are the sacred remains of St. Sabino. Next to the cathedral there is the Diocesan Museum, which houses the Exultet parchment, made with precious Byzantine mold miniatures with the characteristic of having flipped images.

The beautiful Basilica of San Nicola was built around the year one thousand in the Romanesque style. The legend says that it was built to guard the Holy Grail. The crypt houses the relics of the patron saint, while all the gifts brought by pilgrims over the centuries have created a treasure preserved in Nicolaiano museum.


Basilica of San Nicola Bari

The Norman – Swabian Castle is the symbol of the town. It’s an imposing fortress surrounded by a moat and the defensive walls with large bastions. Built by the Normans in 1100, probably on a pre-existing basis, it was enlarged when it passed to Ferdinand of Aragon and later to the Sforza.

The Petruzzelli theater, opened in 1903, is one of the largest theaters in Italy. The current building is partly due to the reconstruction after the fire of 1991, when the dome was destroyed. The Petruzzelli theater hosts opera, ballet and symphony concerts of international importance.


The Basilica Cathedral of Santa Maria Assunta was built in the XI century and then rebuilt during the eighteenth century after the earthquake. In the church we can see different styles: Baroque, late Romanesque, Renaissance. There are also beautiful side chapels made of polychrome marble.

The Rock Church of the Madonna della Stella is also called the Sanctuary Crypt, because it is made of a single room carved into rock. It is situated next to the archaeological site of Gravina, and is a sanctuary since the sixteenth century. Above the sanctuary stands the bell tower. The building has very ancient origins and was dedicated to the gods related to fertility.   

Also the Church of Santa Maria degli Angeli is a rock church, also called “of the graves”, because of the numerous burials at the inside. There are traces of an ancient fresco depicting a Christ Pantocrator. On the walls there are some niches used for oil lamps.

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