Monopoli
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MONOPOLI

On a coastal Adriatic route with splendid beaches and coves, a few kilometres from Polignano al Mare, is where one can find Monopoli, also known as a City of one hundred districts.
The City’s name derives from the Greek monos (only) and polis (city), referring to the solitary Peuceta City of Dirium or Dyria.

The foundation of Monopoli was by the inhabitants of Egnazia, who were escaping after devastation by the Ostrogoths of Totila, during the Greek-Gothic War (535-553 AD). The outcome of this war was the assignment of Puglia to centuries of occidental domination by the Eastern Roman Empire.
The Longobards arrived to counteract this domination during the 7th Century, as recounted by historian Paolo Diacono (663).
Monopoli’s development as a commercial port, subsequently put it at the centre of clashes, mainly between the Saracens, Longobards, Normans and Byzantines.
In 1042, the City was besieged and destroyed by Maniace, who later became a Byzantine emperor.
In 1086, the Normans built the foundations of the Santo Stefano Castle, which then became a Benedictine Abbey and safe shelter for ships directed to the Holy Land, under the management of the Cavaliers of Malta (13th Century).
Not long after, Bishop Romualdo had the Romanesque Cathedral built on a previously pagan cult plot (1107) and named it Madonna of the Madia, due to a find of an icon dedicated to her, on a punt in 1117. The punt was used to construct the Cathedral’s roof, which for some time lay unfinished.
Monopoli, during centuries of Norman, Swabian and Angioina domination, flourished and augmented its influence over surrounding cities. This urban development was only reversed with pestilence, famine and bad governing by the Angiò.
In 1401, Monopoli became a feudatory of the Orsini Family.
Under Aragonese domination (1442), the City was besieged in 1456 and conquered by the Venetians who continued to enlarge their commercial empire in the Adriatic and Mediterranean. Venice, dominated the coast of Puglia until the following century (1530), when the citizens of Monopoli, to avoid a further feudatory in the City, paid Carlo Vth of Hapsburg 51.000 ducats from their own pockets to be autonomous.
A few years earlier (1528), during the clashes between Spanish and Franco-Venetian troops in Southern Italy, Monopoli had walls put up against siege by Commander Alfonso of Avalos who was loyal to Carlo Vth of Hapsburg.
During the same Century, to affront the dangerous Turkish raids, defensive walls and some watchtowers were erected along the coast.
Spanish domination was interrupted in 1713, with the beginning of twenty years of Austrian domination, after which Monopoli and the whole of Southern Italy became part of the Reign of the Two Sicilies under the Bourbons (1734).
The City adhered, like most other cities, to the insurrectional motions of the 19th Century, inspired by French revolutionary ideals and the experience of Republican governing by Bonaparte and Murat (1806-1815). The process concluded with a plebiscitary vote in 1860 and its subsequent annexation to the Reign of Italy (1861).
During both the First and Second World Wars, Monopoli was bombarded from the sea (1916, 1940). Today, Monopoli is a touristic meta of major importance in Puglia, due to its history and its beautiful coastal regions, which are dotted with coves and sandy lidos.
There are many tourist metas in the City, which are impossible to list, but we would like to highlight the main ones: the Carlo Vth Castle, Gerosolomitan Hospital (1350), S. Giacomo Hospital, Palazzo Palmieri, the Rendella Communal Library, Santo Stefano Abbey, the 16th Century town-walls building, Piazza Vittorio Emanuele.
Among the churches, excluding the Romanesque Cathedral, which however has a 17th Century aspect, it is worth visiting: the S. Maria Amalfitana Basilica (20th Century), SS. Apostles Peter and Paul Church, of Paleochristian foundation and the 16th Century Church of S. Francesco of Paola and S. Domenico.
This characteristic commercial vocation, supported by freedom of administrative decisions, also continued under Swabian (13th Century) and Angioini (14th Century) domination, during which the City expanded further.
The arrival of the Aragonese (1442) in Naples and the entire South, coincided with a break in equilibrium between the European powers, who for many years were protagonists of continuous clashes and terrible battles.
At the time, Molfetta experienced a similar tragedy to that suffered in Rome, namely the Sacco dei Lanzichenecchi (Sack by the Lanzichenecchi mercenary soldiers). On the morning of 18th July 1529, Venetian and French troops were protagonists of the Sacco di Molfetta (Sack of Molfetta), which saw the death of 1000 inhabitants over two long days of reprisals.
With the Utrecht Treaty, stipulated in 1714 between the Hapsburgs and Bourbons, the South passed to the Hapsburgs who kept it until the arrival of the Bourbons in 1734.
In October 1860, by plebiscitary vote, annexation of the Reign of the Two Sicilies to the Reign of Italy (1861) came about.
During the First World War, Molfetta was bombarded by Austrian naval and air units, causing the loss of civilians and considerable damage to the City.
The main centre and nucleus of Molfetta is the Island of Sant’Andrea, where one can visit the magnificent Duomo of San Corrado; a Romanesque building dating back to the 11th Century, and the Baroque San Pietro Church. The panorama and walks near to the Duomo are splendid and not to be missed, together with a visit to the suburb’s ancient port to admire the remains of the Medieval walls.
Not too far away one can visit the Cattedrale dell’Assunta (Assumption Cathedral) and the churches of Saint Anna, Saint Stefano and Purgatorio (Purgatory).
Another religious building of great artistic importance is the Basilica of the Madonna of Martiri, a Norman construction (1162, then re-adjusted).
It is impossible to name all its churches, but we would like to mention the oldest: the Santissima Trinità (Holy Trinity) and San Pietro Apostolo (The Apostle S. Peter).
Among the beautiful civil buildings we would like to cite the High Renaissance building of Palazzo Giovene, today seat of the Town Hall.
The Neolithic site, a circular Karst-formation cave 23 m deep with grottoes and remains known as Pulo, is of historical and naturalistic interest.

MONOPOLI
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