Bari's Historical Buildings Walking Tour, Bari

Bari's Historical Buildings Walking Tour (Self Guided), Bari

One of the dicta usually attributed to an 18th-century German poet Johann Wolfgang von Goethe is that "Architecture is the frozen music." To this, one can only add that it's the music of time, especially when it comes to places like Bari, where the intricate details and craftsmanship of historic buildings are a testament to the human ambition to leave a lasting impression and the triumph of human creativity over the constraints of time.

Indeed, this cute port town on the southern Adriatic coast of Italy boasts a number of time-honored buildings – of different styles and epochs – that are worthy of note for their ability to transport the onlooker to bygone eras and ignite imagination.

Basilica di San Nicola (Basilica of Saint Nicholas) is one of the most significant local landmarks. Dedicated to the patron saint of the city, this 11th-century Romanesque-style church features a striking facade and is said to house the remains of Saint Nicholas himself.

Cattedrale di San Sabino (Bari Cathedral) is another impressive Romanesque-style temple. Dating back to the 12th century, the cathedral underwent renovations and expansions over time, blending different architectural elements.

Teatro Petruzzelli (Petruzzelli Theatre), known as the fourth largest theater in Italy, is a magnificent opera house situated in the heart of Bari. It was originally built in the late 19th century but was tragically destroyed by fire in 1991. After extensive restoration, the theater boasts a grand neoclassical facade, a lavish interior featuring gilded decorations, and a large auditorium with excellent acoustics.

Palazzo Fizzarotti (Fizzarotti Palace) is a splendid example of eclectic architecture in Bari. Built in the early 20th century, the palace showcases a mix of Renaissance, Baroque, and Neo-Gothic elements. It has an ornate facade with intricate balconies and decorative motifs.

These are just a few examples of historical buildings that enrich Bari's architectural landscape. Exploring the city will reveal many more fascinating structures, each with its own story, that are like "threads weaving the city's cultural tapestry." If you are looking to delve into the history of Bari, this self-guided architectural voyage will help you bridge the present to the footsteps of the city's glorious past.
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Bari's Historical Buildings Walking Tour Map

Guide Name: Bari's Historical Buildings Walking Tour
Guide Location: Italy » Bari (See other walking tours in Bari)
Guide Type: Self-guided Walking Tour (Sightseeing)
# of Attractions: 10
Tour Duration: 2 Hour(s)
Travel Distance: 2.7 Km or 1.7 Miles
Author: nataly
Sight(s) Featured in This Guide:
  • Basilica San Nicola (Basilica of Saint Nicholas)
  • Chiesa di San Marco dei Veneziani (Church of St. Marcus dei Veneziani)
  • Cattedrale di San Sabino (Bari Cathedral)
  • Chiesa di Santa Teresa dei Maschi (Church of St. Theresa dei Maschi)
  • Teatro Margherita (Margaret Theatre)
  • Palazzo dell'Acquedotto Pugliese (Palace of the Apulian Aqueduct)
  • Teatro Petruzzelli (Petruzzelli Theatre)
  • Palazzo Mincuzzi (Mincuzzi Palace)
  • Teatro Piccinni (Piccinni Theatre)
  • Palazzo Fizzarotti (Fizzarotti Palace)
Basilica San Nicola (Basilica of Saint Nicholas)

1) Basilica San Nicola (Basilica of Saint Nicholas) (must see)

Saint Nicholas of Myra, in Asia Minor (Anatolia), is not to be confused with Saint Nicholas of Lyra, a 13th-century Franciscan scholar from Lyre, Normandy. Nicholas of Bari was, it is said, a prolific worker of miracles. He is the patron of sailors, merchants, archers, thieves, children, brewers, pawnbrokers, the unmarried, and students.

Born in the 3rd century, he survived the persecutions of Diocletian and became Bishop of Myra. In 1087, merchants from Bari removed his bones from Saracen-controlled Myra and brought them home to Italy. A church was consecrated in 1197 to house his relics. It was built during the era of Norman rule in Apulia.

The Basilica of Saint Nicholas, built in the Puglia-Romanesque style, has a more or less square plan, giving it the appearance of a castle. Two stout towers flank the facade. The interior has a nave and two aisles with granite columns. The presbytery is divided by three arches held up by Byzantine columns. There is a "women's gallery" above the aisles.

The exterior is made with white blocks of limestone. The plain facade has minimum decorations. The inside, with its columns, arches, and gilded vaults is more inviting. The relics of Saint Nicholas are kept in a vault filled with marble columns and brick cross-vaults. The sacristy holds precious gifts donated by Popes, kings, and bishops.

The high altar is covered by a ciborium or baldachin of the 12th century. The central apse floors are inlaid with marble and oriental motifs of mythological flora and fauna. The resting place of Saint Nicholas is under the central altar of the crypt. Access to the crypt is by two staircases at the ends of the side aisles.

The basilica is located in the Largo Abate Elia district on the seashore by the Emperor Augustus waterfront (Lungomare Imperatore Augusto), a short distance from the Bari Centrale railway station.
Chiesa di San Marco dei Veneziani (Church of St. Marcus dei Veneziani)

2) Chiesa di San Marco dei Veneziani (Church of St. Marcus dei Veneziani)

The Church of St. Marcus dei Veneziani (Chiesa di San Marco dei Veneziani), located in Bari's historical center, has a fascinating history. It was built around 1002-1003 to celebrate Bari's liberation from the Saracens by Doge Pietro Orseolo II of Venice. First mentioned in 1187, the church is referenced throughout the thirteenth to fifteenth centuries.

The church's facade, though partially retaining its Romanesque appearance, has undergone alterations. It has a gabled double-pitched roof and two high pilasters that originally divided it into three naves. The facade features a notable rose window with a radial pattern, adorned with garlands and small columns. A small winged lion, possibly sculpted by Pietro Facitolo, is situated at the center. Below the rose window, there are two arched single-lancet windows and a round-arched portal with an intricately designed frame, dating back to the eleventh or twelfth century.

The interior displays artworks spanning different periods, from the late Renaissance to the 18th and 19th centuries. Notable pieces include an altarpiece by Umberto Colonna (1953) depicting Our Lady of the Well (Madonna del Pozzo) with Saint Mark and Saint Anthony, a stoup (a basin for holy water) near the entrance featuring a relief image of St. Anthony, and an 18th-century altar in the left aisle with a tabernacle. The altar is crowned by a niche housing a wooden statue of the Our Lady of the Well (Madonna del Pozzo).
Cattedrale di San Sabino (Bari Cathedral)

3) Cattedrale di San Sabino (Bari Cathedral) (must see)

King of Sicily, William I, also known as Il Malo ("the Wicked"), destroyed the Byzantine cathedral in the sack of Bari in 1156. There had been a church on the site since the 6th century. Churches and public buildings were razed. The Basilica of San Nicola was the last one standing.

The Bari Cathedral, consecrated in 1292, is a fine example of Apulia Romanesque, very like the Basilica of San Nicola. The plain facade is in three parts, set off by two pilasters. Each part has a portal. The main portal is in the center, below a large rose window. Over the window is a lintel with carvings of fantasy creatures.

The rebuilt bell tower is made of stone, the same as the original. It has an ornate lantern tower over the Moorish-style dome of the cupola. Inside there are three aisles and 16 columns, and arcades. The transept is pure Apulian Romanesque, as is the false women's gallery and the rebuilt pulpit.

The crypt holds some relics of Saint Sabinus that were brought to Bari in 844. The smaller apse holds two sarcophagi, one for the relics of Saint Columba and the other for other sacred artifacts. The Palace of the Curia, adjacent to the cathedral, is home to the Diocesan Museum.
Chiesa di Santa Teresa dei Maschi (Church of St. Theresa dei Maschi)

4) Chiesa di Santa Teresa dei Maschi (Church of St. Theresa dei Maschi)

The Church of St. Theresa dei Maschi (Chiesa di Santa Teresa dei Maschi), located in the old town of Bari, is a magnificent Baroque church with a rich history and cultural significance. Constructed between 1690 and 1696 by the Discalced Carmelites, the church stands as a testament to their devotion and architectural prowess.

With its Greek cross plan, the interior of Santa Teresa dei Maschi impresses visitors with its harmonious design. The arms of the church are covered by barrel vaults, while a central square is adorned with a pointed arch dome. The apse of the church takes on a rectangular shape, completing the architectural ensemble.

Inside the church, the sacred furniture contributes to its artistic grandeur. The renowned artist Andrea Miglionico, a pupil of Luca Giordano, created a series of canvases that grace the walls. These paintings, dating back to the late 17th century, showcase Miglionico's talent and add depth to the spiritual ambiance of the church. Additionally, three altar frontals made of exquisite inlaid wood further enhance the visual splendor of the interior.

Today, the Church of St. Theresa dei Maschi serves not only as a place of worship but also as an art center. It regularly hosts numerous art exhibitions, attracting artists and enthusiasts from around the world. Moreover, the church acts as the headquarters for the Bibart International Biennial of Contemporary Art of Bari and the metropolitan area. This esteemed event showcases cutting-edge works by contemporary artists, contributing to the city's vibrant art scene.
Teatro Margherita (Margaret Theatre)

5) Teatro Margherita (Margaret Theatre)

Margaret Theatre (Teatro Margherita) is a former theatre in Bari transformed into a museum of contemporary art. Its history dates back to the early 20th century when it was constructed to replace the Varietà Margherita, a wooden theater that faced strong criticism from local entrepreneurs and the Petruzzelli family, who saw it as a potential rival to their own Petruzzelli Theater.

Built between 1912 and 1914 near Bari's Old Port, the Margherita Theater was designed in the Art Nouveau style by architect Francesco De Giglio. It was a pioneering structure in Bari, utilizing reinforced concrete and featuring a unique construction on pillars. To access the theater, a pier connected it to the mainland due to its surrounding water. The grand opening of the theater took place on August 22, 1914.

The building itself showcases Art Nouveau influences, with a rectangular layout and a prominent façade adorned with a wide arch. Flanking the arch are two towers with decorative pinnacles, complemented by large windows bordered by pilasters featuring Corinthian capitals. Upon entering, visitors are greeted by a spacious entrance hall crowned by a dome embellished with stucco and frescoes dating back to its inauguration in 1914.
Palazzo dell'Acquedotto Pugliese (Palace of the Apulian Aqueduct)

6) Palazzo dell'Acquedotto Pugliese (Palace of the Apulian Aqueduct)

The Palace of the Apulian Aqueduct (Palazzo dell'Acquedotto Pugliese) stands as a remarkable architectural gem in Bari. Designed by the engineer Cesare Brunetti, often referred to as the "architect of the waters," the palace showcases a blend of innovative engineering and Apulian Romanesque architectural style. Another notable engineer Michele Salvati contributed to the design of the reinforced concrete structure, which is one of the first of its kind in Bari.

Adhering to the prevalent Apulian Romanesque style, the palace exterior is adorned with Trani stone, a local limestone renowned for its durability and elegant appearance. This choice of material not only enhances the aesthetic appeal but also pays homage to the architectural traditions of the region.

The interior of the palace features furnishings and decorations crafted to reflect the central theme of water. These captivating elements were designed by Duilio Cambellotti. Cambellotti's artistic vision breathes life into the interiors, creating a harmonious ambiance that resonates with the spirit of the building and its water connection.

In 2000, the Palace of the Apulian Aqueduct underwent significant transformations to accommodate various functions and enhance its utility. The first floor was extensively renovated to house a museum dedicated to the history of the Apulian Aqueduct. Additionally, the palace boasts a conference room and a library, equipped with multimedia archives and photographic collections.

Currently, the Palace of the Apulian Aqueduct serves as the headquarters for the presidency and houses several administrative offices.
Teatro Petruzzelli (Petruzzelli Theatre)

7) Teatro Petruzzelli (Petruzzelli Theatre)

The Petruzzelli Theatre (Teatro Petruzzelli) in Bari has a rich history. It was built by the Petruzzelli family and the city administration. Construction began in 1898 and finished in 1903, making it Bari's largest theater and the fourth largest in Italy.

The theater was frescoed by Raffaele Armenise and decorated in pure gold. Also, the theater was equipped with heating and electric light and it had a capacity of 2,192 seats. On February 14, 1903, the grand opening of the Petruzzelli Theatre took place, featuring a performance of Giacomo Meyerbeer's opera Les Huguenots.

During the 1980s, Petruzzelli Theatre gained international recognition by hosting two significant operatic debuts. The first was Niccolò Piccinni's Iphigénie en Tauride, which had not been performed since its premiere in Paris in 1779. The second was the Neapolitan version of Bellini's opera I Puritani, originally written for renowned Spanish singer Maria Malibran but never performed by her. These events played a pivotal role in establishing the city's reputation.

The Petruzzelli Theatre was not limited to opera; it also presented ballets and major concerts. Numerous renowned international artists graced its stage, including Tito Schipa, Herbert von Karajan, Rudolf Nureyev, Frank Sinatra, Ray Charles, Liza Minnelli, and Juliette Gréco. Distinguished Italian artists such as Eduardo De Filippo, Riccardo Muti, Carla Fracci, Luciano Pavarotti, Piero Cappuccilli, and Giorgio Gaber also performed there.
Palazzo Mincuzzi (Mincuzzi Palace)

8) Palazzo Mincuzzi (Mincuzzi Palace)

Mincuzzi Palace (Palazzo Mincuzzi), located in the charming city of Bari, stands as a significant historical landmark. This magnificent building, erected between 1926 and 1928, was designed by architect Aldo Forcignanò and engineer Gaetano Palmiotto. The Mincuzzi family, proprietors of the esteemed Mincuzzi department store, commissioned the construction of this architectural gem to serve as the new home for their business.

The architectural design of Mincuzzi Palace showcases a harmonious blend of styles and influences, capturing the essence of the era in which it was constructed. The building's façade exhibits elements of Art Nouveau and Neoclassical architecture, reflecting the prevailing trends of the time. With its ornate decorations, elegant balconies, and meticulously crafted details, the palace exudes an air of grandeur and sophistication.

Upon entering Mincuzzi Palace, visitors are greeted by a spacious and inviting interior. The layout of the building was meticulously planned to accommodate the diverse needs of the department store. Wide corridors and well-lit halls lead patrons through a myriad of shopping areas, each carefully curated to showcase the finest merchandise of the time. The palace quickly became a popular destination for locals and tourists, offering a unique shopping experience in a luxurious setting.

Over the years, Mincuzzi Palace has witnessed the ebb and flow of history, serving as a witness to the evolving commercial landscape of Bari. Despite the passage of time, the building has managed to retain its architectural splendor and remains an iconic structure in the city's urban fabric.
Teatro Piccinni (Piccinni Theatre)

9) Teatro Piccinni (Piccinni Theatre)

The Piccinni Theatre, located in Bari, was dedicated to honoring the renowned composer Niccolò Piccinni, who was born in Bari in the eighteenth century.

During the early 19th century, Bari's Municipality had its theater located in the ancient Seat Palace (Palazzo del Sedile), dating back to the 16th century, in the old city. However, this theater was in a deteriorated state and unsuitable for accommodating a large audience. Additionally, with the expansion of the city beyond the old walls due to the establishment of the Murattian village, a new theater was needed.

Construction of the new theater began in 1836 but was only completed in 1854. On May 30th of that year, the theater was inaugurated, though it did not yet have an official name. The opening performance featured Gaetano Donizetti's tragic opera Poliuto.

The architecture of the Piccinni Theatre is notable for its grand and elegant design, characteristic of many 19th-century theaters. The façade is impressive and features a Neoclassical style, common in theaters of that era. The exterior is adorned with ornate architectural details, including columns, pediments, and decorative sculptures. These elements add a touch of grandeur to the building and create a sense of anticipation for the artistic experiences that await inside.

Upon entering the theater, visitors are greeted by a spacious and opulent lobby. The interior design reflects the architectural style of the time, with luxurious embellishments and intricate details. The auditorium itself is designed in a traditional horseshoe shape, providing excellent sightlines and acoustics for the audience. The seating arrangement is tiered, allowing for a clear view of the stage from every angle.
Palazzo Fizzarotti (Fizzarotti Palace)

10) Palazzo Fizzarotti (Fizzarotti Palace)

Fizzarotti Palace (Palazzo Fizzarotti), located in Bari, is a notable historical edifice. Constructed in 1910 at the heart of the city, it was commissioned by Emanuele Fizzarotti, a prominent banker and entrepreneur. The design of the building was entrusted to Ettore Bernich, a renowned architect known for his leadership in Italian eclecticism. The palace boasts lavishly adorned interior rooms, each showcasing distinct artistic styles and incorporating a variety of materials and techniques.

Situated above the underground spring known as "Mare Isabella," Fizzarotti Palace exhibits multiple architectural layers. Inside, remnants from the 13th century can be observed, reflecting the presence of former convents and refreshment stations that existed outside the medieval city walls. In 1850, Nicola Lagattola facilitated the connection of two separate areas of land through the demolition of the medieval walls and the expansion of the city into the Murattian quarter.

The palace's four reception rooms are particularly captivating, drawing interest and admiration. These include the Hall of Arts and Crafts (Salone del Arti e del Lavoro), the 14th-century Salone, the Pink Hall (Salone Rosa), and the Fireplace Hall (Salone del Caminetto). Access to the latter is gained through the so-called waiting room, which features a remarkable floor mosaic depicting the winged head of Mercury, the god of Commerce. This portrayal serves as a clear allusion to the prosperous financial activities of the building's owner, who played a significant role in the modernization of Bari.

Walking Tours in Bari, Italy

Create Your Own Walk in Bari

Create Your Own Walk in Bari

Creating your own self-guided walk in Bari is easy and fun. Choose the city attractions that you want to see and a walk route map will be created just for you. You can even set your hotel as the start point of the walk.
Bari Introduction Walking Tour

Bari Introduction Walking Tour

In the 3rd century BC, the Lapygian coastal city of "Barion" was colonized by Rome. Now called "Bari," it is located on the upper heel of the Italian boot in the region of Apulia. Bari has been referred to as the "California of the South of Italy."

The city is divided into sections called "quarters." The Old City Quarter is located on a peninsula in the...  view more

Tour Duration: 1 Hour(s)
Travel Distance: 2.2 Km or 1.4 Miles