The Queen of Apulia cathedrals
Among the most important and historical works of art in Puglia and in Italy, there is the athedral of Santa Maria Assunta, built in the 12th century AD in a strategic position, built a stone's throw from the sea and in the historic center of the city. It can be reached from three different roads but the one I recommend is also the tourist one, that is to park your vehicle near the Villa comunale or Piazza della Repubblica and go towards the tourist port. From here the cathedral is already clearly visible and you can simply walk along the port and go up the last street called Via Porta Vassalla.
The bell tower of the Cathedral is visible in the distance from all the neighboring cities and is a clear point of reference not only of the splendor of the construction but also of the power and magnificence that confirmed it as the Queen of the Apulian Cathedrals.
Located in the center of a square, Piazza Duomo, the cathedral is isolated from the other buildings placed nearby to enhance the Romanesque construction, in limestone of Trani, which has a color very close to white, and creates a strong contrast with the blue sea background. In the past it was a notable point of reference for the ships that circulated in the Adriatic sea.
The Cathedral consists of 3 churches: the Upper Basilica, the crypts of San Nicola and Santa Maria and the hypogeum of San Leucio. The entrance is from Piazza Duomo and you enter from the church on the ground floor, the crypt of Santa Maria, where you can see in the air just in front of the church some stone remains found during the restoration or present Going underground. The church is quite dark due to the little light that enters but also the color of the walls, which were full of frescoes in the past, to date the restorers have recovered some complete and others partial. Although small, it consists of 3 naves and in the central one there are wooden benches up to the small altar at the end of the nave.
Laterally there is a small staircase that leads us to the hypogeum of San Leucio, a small and damp place, is located below sea level. Here very few frescoes have been recovered, destroyed by humidity over the centuries. Recently, the entire area has been restored, having been defaced in previous decades by vandalism.
Going up the stairs and past the altar of the church of Santa Maria, one enters, through small steps, the crypt of San Nicola Pellegrino, the patron saint of the city, whose relics are kept between two boulders of cement. The closure is not complete as it is estimated that part of the bones of the saint are scattered throughout the world, due to the incursions of various peoples over the centuries. The church is much more intimate than that of Santa Maria, in the shape of an apse and corresponds to the apse of the upper Basilica.
Going up a not so simple staircase, you go up and arrive at the large Upper Basilica of the Cathedral of Trani. Access can also be made directly from the outside, through the two ramps located just above the entrance to the church of Santa Maria. The Basilica is also formed here between enormous naves, separated by imposing marble columns that rise upwards, to surmount the upper part of the church, whose interior is formed by a wooden ceiling. Inside the church it is possible to notice the original bronze door of the church, recently replaced with an identical copy, due to deterioration due to weathering and saltiness. I leave you some impressive images of the Upper Basilica.
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