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Trani, la cattedrale in riva al Mare.

The name comes from Tirenum or lure-num, and legend has it that Tirreno, the son of Diomedes, founded the town, which is mentioned in the Peutinger Table, an ancient map of the world. Trani became important after the destruction of Canosa by the Saracens, and under the Normans was allowed a number of privileges. The Ordinamenta Maris, the oldest medieval maritime code, was drawn up here. The town flourished under Frederick II, who had a Castle built, but in the Angevin period began to decline, thriving again only in the XV century. Its decline set in definitively under Spanish rule, though at the beginning of the XVII century it boasted a Law School. The town's glorious past is confirmed by the churches and residences of its old town, including the beautiful XVIII century Palazzo Caccetta, Palazzo Quercia and Palazzo Bianchi.

The old town extends along the port and onto a small peninsula, where the Cathedral, dedicated to S. Nicola Pellegrino, stands in a stupendous position directly beside the sea. Unique as regards its site, it is without doubt one of the finest examples of Apulian-Romanesque architecture and one of the most magnificent churches in the whole of Italy, bearing witness to the splendour of Trani in medieval times. Its construction was begun in 1097, on the site of the older church of S. Maria, and progressed in stages, the main phase falling between 1159 and 1197. Its smooth, imposing façade in pink-white stone is soberly decorated with a monofora and an eye, positioned above three windows, arranged in a line.

The central one of these windows is larger than the other two, lavishly decorated, and flanked on both sides by a lion and an elephant rising on a corbel. The lower part of the façade is ornamented by a series of blind arches, while the exquisite portal frames a superb bronze door by Barisano da Trani (1180). The bell-tower, built in the first half of the XIII century, was the work of Nicolaus Sacerdos et Protomagister. The interior of the Cathedral is divided between the upper section, corrupted in the XIX century and recently restored, and the lower section, dedicated to S. Maria della Scala, which contains the crypt of S. Nicola and the underground tomb of S. Leucio.

Trani Castle, constructed by Frederick II, was begun in 1233 and completed in 1249. Later alterations were carried out in the times of Charles I and Charles II of Anjou by Pierre d'Angicourt. The Castle was carelessly treated in later centuries and used as a prison until a few years ago, when it underwent restoration.
Standing in the courtyard of the Templars' Hospital, the early XII century church of Ognissanti is another of the many splendid churches in Trani, its façade is made up by a double portico resting on columns.

Others include: the church of S. Teresa, a fine example of Baroque architecture, which houses paintings from the school of Corrado Giaquinto; the medieval church of S. Giacomo, with its beautiful portal, restored in 1647; the church of S. Andrea, in Byzantine style with a central cupola; the church of S. Domenico, a Romanesque structure, rebuilt in 1763; and the church of S. Francesco, founded in 1176 by the Benedictines, who in the XVI century gave it to the Franciscans. This peculiar church has three cupolas, the middle one, higher than the other two, resting on an octagonal tambour.

Just outside the town lies the abbey of S. Maria di Colonna. This church was also founded by the Benedictines, in 1098, and given to the Franciscans in 1427, to whom it belonged until 1867. The church has a fine portal and three naves, the central one spanned by crossed vaults. Through the centuries the church has undergone numerous alterations.

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