architettura spontanea al massimo livello
Ostuni is a white
town of great beauty, set on a hilltop overlooking and commanding
the plain below.
was an important town of the area even from pre-Roman Messapian
times. Unfortunately its importance led it to undergo a turbulent
history, being conquered by a succession of invaders and dynasties,
from the Romans, then the Goths, the Greeks, Byzantines, and
suffering Totila invasion in the sixth century.
came the Longobards, the Saracens and the Normans, under whom
it gained some stability.
1294 the Princes of Taranto were feudal lords of Ostuni. A
noted inhabitant at one time was Francesco di Assissi.
town's fortifications did not prevent it changing hands in
the middle ages, between the dukes of Aragon and Milan, the
Venetians, the Aragonese again, and Spanish family control
extended up until the early 1800s.
Ostuni has many reminders of the town's important past. Atop
the cluster of whitewashed houses which is visible for many
miles, the 15th century cathedral dominates the view. Designated
a national monument in 1902, it took some 60 years to build
and has a fine front facade with three rose windows, and an
impressive interior, remodelled in the 18th century.
the cathedral is a medieval maze of steep narrow streets,
alleys and whitewashed buildings, arches and tunnels. Nearby
is the Bishop's Palace, built in part using stones of the
earlier castle, remains of which can still be seen. To the
north there are magnificent views down to the sea.
walk down towards the newer quarters of the town passes amongst
other churches and fine buildings Santa Maria Maddalena, a
Baroque church with bright tiled cupola, and an 18th century
Carmelite convent which is adjacent to a museum housing artifacts
from Ostuni's pre-classical civilisation.
below the hill of the old quarter is the main square Piazza
del Liberta, at one end of which is the tall-steepled 18th
century church of Guglia di Sant' Oronzo, the patron saint
of Ostuni, with a lively decoration inside and out. The square
also contains a column and statue devoted to the saint. A
little off the square is the 17th century church of Spirito
Santo, with fine reliefs over the doorway.
work in the pedestrian area of the square has exposed remains
of medieval and earlier foundations and these have now been
left open to view.
Ostuni there are many sanctuaries and other remains showing
historical evidence of the Christian church, dating back to
the first century. In the fourth century Saint Biagio lived
here, and he is remembered in the cave church crypt that housed
his relics, and still shows fresco paintings.
other "chiese rupestri" or rock churches, of interest
is the grotto of Santa Maria d'Agnano. In addition to its
frescoes it is noted as the place of discovery of the tomb,
said to be some 20,000 years old, of a young girl known as
"Delia". Her remains are now in the town's museum.