Built on three hills, 200 meters high on the sea, Ostuni is also called the white city because of the white lime painting of the buildings, a method of painting that has its origin in the middle ages and which initially needed to make brighter the narrow streets of the city. This feature has really made a small jewel of Salento, embraced by defensive walls of Aragonese origin and marked by many alleys.
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Ostuni is definitely a not to be missed stage, to ease the visit we summarized the places of fundamental interest for an unforgettable tour:
In the highest part of the city stands the Cathedral of Santa Maria dell’Assunzione, built by Ferdinando d ‘Aragona and Alfonso II (in fact restored in 1400 from a previous building, after a strong earthquake), whose facade is a perfect example of gothic art, embellished by one of the biggest rose windows.
Within the Cathedral, accessible with a ticket of 1 €, you can admire three beautiful canvas set in the ceiling and a suggestive wooden altar.
On the outside of the cathedral, along via Trinchera, there are numerous dining rooms, restaurants for lunch and dinner or ice cream. We recommend a break to freshen up with a good granita (coffee with cream, myrtle, mulberry, almonds or pistachio are the most special), or to enjoy an iced coffee sweetened with almond milk.
A curiosity: near the cathedral, you can find Vico Castello. This road shows its origins to the Castle of Ostuni, built in 1148 by Geoffrey III, then demolished.
Palazzo Vescovile and Palazzo del Seminario
In front of the cathedral of Ostuni stands the Arch Scoppa, the most baroque element of the square, which connects Palazzo Vescovile (Bishop’s Palace) to Palazzo del Seminario (Seminary palace). Centuries ago, the arch was built in wood, and then was renewed with more lasting materials from Bishop Scoppa, becoming the one that is now a flashy Baroque Gallery.
Palazzo del Seminario is located on the left of the arch and was built by bishop Scoppa after a disastrous earthquake. The project was entrusted to Salvatore Trinchera and initially organized on three floors, then eliminated in the 50’s. To date, the palace is home to the curia, but it still shows the inscription “Venite filj audite me”, used once to urge young people to join the seminary.
Palazzo Vescovile is located on the right side of the arch, built on the remains of a sixteenth-century building (of which remains only the underground parts, used in the past as jails). On the facade of the building, there is a coat of arms with an eagle, effigy of the Sforza’s family: it is due to the marriage of Gian Galeazzo Sforza with Isabella of Aragona, lady of Ostuni. Initially, the Bishop’s palace was the seat of the rulers who parted the right of residence to the bishops, but over the years, the bishops appropriate of the Palace. Inside the Bishop’s palace, it is possible to see the remains of the castle of Ostuni, built in 1148 and demolished in 1559, and it’s also present the chapel of the bishop, particularly rich in decorations.
The column of Saint Oronzo
It was erected to be dedicated to the patron saint of the city, Saint Oronzo, thanking him for sparing Ostuni from the plague. In fact, Ostuni was not affected by the plague which spread all over Apulia and on the kingdom of Naples thanks to the white painting of houses. The Lime, in fact, is a natural disinfectant and avoided the proliferation of the disease.
Positioned in Piazza Della Libertà, the column stands for more than 20 meters of height and is carved on local stone in baroque style.
We advise also to visit:
- Il Convento delle Benedettine (Convent of Benedictines)
- La chiesa di San Giacomo in Compostella (Church of St. James in Compostela) erected in 1400-is the second most important sacred building in Ostuni after the Cathedral.
- Piazza Della Libertà (freedom square), where you can visit the church of St. Francis
- La Chiesa del Santo Spirito (The Church of the Holy Spirit), built in 1637