Lucera is situated in the
Northern part of the "Apulian Table" of Puglia,
in the province of Foggia. It boasts ancient origins which
are not easily identified.
It is considered as founded by the Daunii, an ancient Italian
population, from which the Samnites sprung, or maybe from
the Etruscans (luc in Etruscan signifies Sacred Woods). A
further legendary version states that it was founded by the
Greek hero Diomedes, who after the Trojan war, disembarked
along the Adriatic coasts and founded various cities, including
The City enjoyed great importance after being mentioned by
Polibio, Plinio and Aristotle.
It was allied to Rome during the Samnite Wars. Due to this,
when it became a colony in 314 BC, it also received numerous
privileges: including minting its own currency, making fiscal
laws and nominating magistrates.
During the Punic Wars (3rd Century BC), it renewed its fidelity
to the Republic without surrendering to the Carthaginians,
even after the victory at Cannes by Hannibal.
It became a municipium in 90 BC, and was enriched by monuments,
forums, thermal baths, a Roman amphitheatre and a temple dedicated
to Cerere (Demetra).
During the Imperial era, the apostle Peter passed through
and gave start to the conversion to Christianity in the City.
The first churches were founded.
By miracle, it escaped devastation by the hands of the Goths
and Vandals during the 5th Century. Lucera was instead firstly
protagonist in the clashes between the Byzantines and Ostrogoths
(535-553), then between the Byzantines and the Longobards
(7th Century). In this last setting it was brought to the
ground by the Byzantine troops of Costanzo Secondo (670).
It was only after Lucera was taken by Grimoaldo, Duke of Benevento
during the 9th Century, that the City experienced a period
of relative calm until the arrival of the Normans (11th Century).
The City developed and enjoyed a period of major splendour
under the Swabians. Here, the Emperor Federick II brought
around 60 thousands Saracens from Sicily between 1222 and
1223. This move was aimed at reducing the clashes between
the Saracens and Siculi.
This resulted in a change of town-planning: Mosques, minarets
and harems were constructed and the classical square Roman
plan was substituted by roads characteristic of Arabic centres.
It therefore became the marvellous Lugêrah. The Saracens,
grateful to Federick II, sought peace with the Muslim population
The Emperor also had a magnificent castle built.
With the arrival of the Angioini in 1269, commanded by Carlo
I of Angiò, Lucera was besieged and won over in a short
A gigantic city wall was built, which is still visible today
from the Cathedral and Royal Palace. The San Francesco and
San Domenico Churches were also constructed during the same
Carlo II of Angiò, on succession to the throne, decided
to exterminate the Saracens: Lucera was besieged and 20.000
inhabitants were murdered. The City changed name and became
known as the City of Santa Maria.
In 1442, Lucera surrendered to the Aragonese, who granted
it many privileges.
In 1456, the City was damaged by an earthquake.
The Renaissance period saw the appearance of many religious
orders in the City and the construction of new churches. The
orders were then suppressed by decree in 1806, under Governor
The 17th Century brought economic depression, aggravated by
events of pestilence. It was only when the Bourbons arrived
that the City experienced new intellectual and economic fervour.
After the Renaissance clashes, Lucera was annexed to the Reign
of Italy in 1861.