The small shrines devoted to the Virgin Madia represent a rich and authentic aspect of the prosperous artistic and cultural heritage of Monopoli; located in most of the alleys through the old town, they show the extraordinary bond of the locals towards the Virgin worshiped during May, a month traditionally dedicated to the Mother of Christ.
The castle Charles V was built during the domain of the Spanish in 1529 to defend the surrounding territory. Charles V built a military castle in any city that fell under his domain. The place chosen for the castle in Monopoli was the north cape Punta Penna situated in front of the church Santa Maria della Zaffara or Santa Maria Sapphire named after the colour of the Virgin gown painted in a canvas currently stored in the diocesan’s museum.
Basilica Cattedrale e Santuario Maria SS. della Madia
The current building dates to 1742 and was erected on the remains of the Romanesque church wanted by Bishop Romualdo xxxxxxxxxxxx around the year 1,000 . The astonishing building is associated with the miraculous event of the arrival of the icon of Maria SS. of Madia. Works began in 1107 and the masonry works took ten years to be finished; however, the construction was left without a roof, and It was then that Our Lady performed her first miracle. A Byzantine sacred icon positioned on a raft of timber (Aleppo pine) landed on the coast of Monopoli, whose timber was then used to complete the roof of the Cathedral. The facade of the Basilica has a very scenic impact with Baroque features.
The "Prospero Rendella" Civic Library of Monopoli is the full expression of the UNESCO Manifesto of Libraries, fully shared by the City and expressed with a modern spirit and participated in as many others as ever. In restoring the Rendella to citizenship after 11 years of closure, after massive restoration interventions, the role expressed by the Manifesto is defined as a new "place of knowledge".
The mission that is not that of the "simple" library, can be summarized as follows:
- place of aggregation and socialization, welcoming and flexible;
- place of promotion and approach to culture, information and all communication tools, where citizens can identify and recognize themselves;
- multi-purpose, convergent and inclusive place, able to activate new energies in the community, a real active cultural center of the city.
The doors of the Rendella, overlooking Piazza Garibaldi, will be open to the public as much as possible, even on Saturdays and Sundays.
Piazza Garibaldi currently is the place in town to be for tourists and locals, due to its beauty, sophistication, cultural interest and for being the centre of the local nightlife, validate by the numerous and most popular bars and restaurants. Historically was a cover up of an ancient Norman port dock dating 1049.
Worth a mention is the bell construction located at the intersection of the square and via Garibaldi; at the base of the bell is noticeable the so-called “Infamy” column to which were chained offenders and criminals being put to shame in front of the population.
Monopoli main square is Piazza Vittorio Emanuele II, commonly called “Borgo”, built in 1796 under the King of Naples and designed by the architect De Simone. The square has always been used as a meeting place and always has been the centre of the entire town’s life. During the 19th century Monopoli developed a checkboard planimetry combining the oldest part of the town with the new city and the Borgo is a great example of this. Under the square there are anti-aircraft shelters and tunnels used as a refuge during the British bombing of the World War II, in the recent years those have been opened to public.
Piazza XX Settembre, the square takes its name from the street in which is located, easily recognizable for the beautiful and tall palm trees.
Enhances the beauty of the square the rare view of the former convent and church of San Domenico.
The square is today the meeting point between the medieval old village and the new town. During restoration works carried out in March 2013 beneath the stone paving of the square were found remains of an ancient town tower and more stone manufactured goods of historical interest.
Through a picturesque alleyway in front of the Purgatorio church there is via dei Mulini, where you can admire an extraordinary insight of the town fortification walls. From via dei Mulini you can see down into the ancient moat and looking carefully you can see a semi-circular niche beautifully decorated with mixed linear elements, statue of San Francesco da Paola dating 1700, patron of peasants.
The cave “Grotta delle mura” came to headlines for the discovery of a child skeleton who lived about twelve thousand years ago, it’s situated along Monopoli coastline towards Capitolo area in the proximity of Porto Rosso. It is what remains of a big and great cavern once much deeper and wider, collapsed due to the immense strength of blasting waves.
Currently the archaeological site is protected by a long railing demanded by the archaeological superintendent, in the nearby vicinity have been set up a series of boards with detailed descriptions of the above site along with sites of prehistorical interest found in the all surrounding coastline.
San Domenico’s church takes us back to a distinctly Domenican environment. The presence of Domenican friars in Monopoli dates back to 1270 when they founded the church of Santa Maria Nova. On the main altar you can see the crucifix, work of art of Michele de Palma dated 1970. All the alters on the left are of carved tuff decorated with plaster by the very capable hands of craftsmen from Lecce. From 1881 to today the church is kept in pristine order and cared by the San Catalado confreres.