Barletta is situated in front of promontory of the Gargano, in the South-Eastern part of the Gulf of Manfredonia. The city faces onto the Adriatic Sea and is located North of Bari.
The first historical traces of the city are dated IV century b.C., in a document of the Tavola Peutingeriana, which refers about a center called Bardulos. The first city growth was registered only in the VI century A.D., when the city hosted the inhabitants of Canosa, that had escaped from the destruction of their city by the Longobardo army. During the Crusades, Barletta became one of the most important ports of the Adriatic, an important stage to reach the Holy Land.
The passage of merchants, pilgrims and soldiers, ready to embark for the Middle East, originated the fortune of the city. The large flow of wealth did not finish with the end of the Crusades as the religious orders of Barletta were capable to administrate the resources and founded a rich Lord land. In a later period the Emperor Federico II, conscious of the strategic importance of Barletta, proclaimed the city one of the state cities of his kingdom.
In 1503 in the Osteria di Veleno, La Motte, captain of a French garrison, doubted with arrogance the valour of the Italians and so the city was the theater of a historical victory of Italian knights over the French challengers, in what became known as "the challenge of Barletta".
At the border of the city rises the Hohenstaufen Castle (Castello Svevo), an edified building that is dated to the XI century. It became a castle and home of the Svevo Family, evidenced by the Imperial Eagles engraved in the emblems placed over the windows in the courtyard. Inside there is a bust of Federico II, sculptured in XII century and the Tomb of the Apostles, which was the first proof of Christianity in Barletta, dated to III - IV century A.D.
The Cathedral of Santa Maria Maggiore was built on the ruins of a Early Christian settlement. The building in Romanesque style was renewed and completed with three apses in Gothic style. The church was enlarged and now has a trapezoidal shape and the aisles are taller than the Romanesque ones.
The Basilica of the Santo Sepolcro, the name points out the strong relationship between Barletta and the Holy Land, is of the late XII century. The façade features a large entrance with a groin arch, whilst along the left side there are a series of blind arches covered by a large canopy.
Palazzo Della Marra, built in '500 by the noble Family Della Marra is a united example of Baroque style that is outside Salentino territory. The building features a doorway flanked by two large sculptured figures that represent an Old person and a Young one and a balcony supported by fantasy and monstruous characters.
Not to miss: the Church of San Gaetano, the Church of Sant'Andrea, the Church of San Giacomo, the Palazzo Santacrice, the Palazzo Leone Pandolfelli, Porta Marina (which in the past was a custom's point) and the statue of Eracle, also known as the Colosso of Barletta, which features a Late Imperial Roman clothed character.