Agriturismo Masseria Selvaggi come Contattarci

Otranto, il Mosaico di Pantaleone

The Messapian city of Otranto was held first by the Greeks and then by the Romans; its name comes from the little river of Hydruntum which flows into its harbour.
The town wielded great influence under Byzantium, when it was the Eastern Church's main centre in the South of Italy. The Normans, led by Robert Guiscard, managed to drive out the Byzantines in 1068 and began to build a Cathedral. The latter was completed in the second half of the XII century and, after 1481, partially rebuilt. A beautiful Baroque portal and a fine rose window from the end of the XV century grace the facade. The interior is magnificent, its floor inlaid with one of the largest mosaics extant, completed between 1163 and 1166 by a priest named Pantaleone.

The name of Otranto is linked to the tragic events which took place in July 1480, when a fleet of Turkish warships commanded by Pasha Acomat beseiged the town. The Turks' bold plan was to subdue Italy and France and join forces with the Muslims ruling Spain; but they were caught unawares by the unexpected resistance of the inhabitants of Otranto, who held them at bay for fifteen days. Eventually the Muslims broke into the town and ordered the Christians to abjure. On their refusal, the Turks breached the Cathedral and killed Bishop Stefano Pendinelli and all the others who had taken refuge within its walls.

About 800 of the townsfolk were transported to the nearby Minerva hill and beheaded for having refused to deny their faith. They were declared martyrs by the Church: their bones are kept in 7 tall cabinets in the Cathedral of Otranto, and in the church of Santa Caterina in Naples.

Another important church in Otranto is that of San Pietro, a X-XI century Byzantine construction which once may possibly have been the Cathedral. It is almost square, on a Greek-cross plan, and is divided into three small semicircular apses. The interior is frescoed. The Castle was built by Ferdinand of Aragon on the site of a pre-existing fortification from the era of Frederick II. It is lai out on a pentagonal plan with three round towers on its corners and a speared bulwark facing towards the sea.

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