Castello Ducale - Ceglie Messapica

CEGLIE MESSAPICA

Half way along the road between Brindisi and Taranto, is where Ceglie is situated.

It is an ancient centre founded by the Messapians by the name of Kaìlia; a Messapian stronghold also known as dodecapoli deriving from the 12 cities it encompassed: Alytia (Alezio), Ozan (Ugento), Brention/Brentesion (Brindisi), Hyretum/Veretum (Vereto), Hodrum/Idruntum (Otranto), Kaìlia (Ceglie Messapica), Manduria, Mesania (Mesagne), Neriton (Nardò), Orra (Oria), Cavallino, Thuria Sallentina (Roca Vecchia).
In the City and surrounding territory, there are some ancient remains such as: the 19 mirrors, some stones of varying dimensions which were once lookout towers (the larger) and tombs containing funeral objects (the smaller).
The defensive function of Ceglie is confirmed by its four City walls, built during the Messapian era, which protected the City from the Greeks of Taranto, who continuously tried to acquire an outlet along the Adriatic coastal area.
The clash between the two Greek civilisations and Messapica, ended in the defeat of Taranto in 473 BC, due to a strong Messapian cavalry.
During the III Century BC, after the campaigns of Pirro in Italy in defence of Greek Taranto, the entire region fell under the influence of Rome (275 BC) and took on the name of Caelium.
Not much is known about the Imperial period, but it is probable that Ceglie was an important locality as demonstrated by the finds of temples in its historical centre.
After the fall of the Roman Empire (476 AD), Ceglie experienced devastation and siege by the Goths of Alarico and the Vandals.
It was subjected to annexation and ephemeral reign by the Ostrogoths (476-535), then fell into the hands of the Byzantines, as with all of Puglia (553), for about twenty years, until the arrival of the Longobards of Alboino, who named it Ceglie of the Forest.
After Norman domination (11th Century AD) and that of the Swabians (13th Century), the City passed hands to the Angioini and was given as a dowry for Eleonora, Carlo II of Angiò’s daughter.
During the 15th Century, Ceglie was governed by the Diocese of Brindisi and then yielded in exchange to Ferdinardo Sanseverino, who amplified the Castle by building the square tower. This family was succeeded by the Luperano and the Sisto y Britto, who took Ceglie from Bourbon reign to the new Reign of Italy (1860).
Ceglie Messapica can be entered via two doors: Giuso and Monterone. From here, through a sinuous path, one will arrive at the climb up to the “Centro Scaloni,” existing since Messapian times and updated during the Medieval period. It leads to the Castle area.
The village centre is dominated by the presence of the Castle, initiated during Norman times (11th Century AD), and built on the same site of the Hellenistic Acropolis and main Roman temples.
Close by, one can also visit the Matrix Church, which took on its present Baroque look during the ‘700s.
There are also visible traces, in Ceglie Messapica, of a mural wall, known as Paretone.
Outside the City, one can visit the Madonna della Grotta Church, which houses frescoes from the 13th Century and the S. Michele Grotto with frescoes from the 8th Century.
The grottos of Montevicoli, which were frequented during the Messapian era, as demonstrated by finds of inscriptions, are also interesting.

CEGLIE MESSAPICA
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Puglia (Apulia) region of Italy

 

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