Fortino di Sant’Antonio Abate is a fort located on the eastern edge of the Bari Vecchia, the historical center of Bari, in front of the Pier of Sant’Antonio.
The fort was built for defensive purposes in 1440 on the remains of a tower from 1359. The fort was erected by the Prince of Taranto, Giovanni Antonio del Balzo Orsini, who left his coat of arms on the portal.
After the death of the feudal lord, the fort was destroyed by the people of Bari, and then rebuilt between 1501 and 1524 by Isabella of Aragon, Duchess of Milan, and Bona Sforza, Queen of Poland, as part of the renewal of the defensive system of the city.
Later, the fort was demilitarized and, in 1847, it was taken over by the Municipality. During the following years, the structure was neglected and continued to deteriorate, falling into a state of semi-ruin.
The fort was later definitively restored by the Municipality, and today it can be admired in all its splendour. Its spaces are currently used for cultural events.
A graceful wooden statue of the Saint Anthony the Abbot, also known as Saint Anthony the Great, to whom the construction was dedicated, is located in a chapel under the entrance hall.
The only day in which the chapel can be visited is January 17, the day when it is opened for religious ceremonies dedicated to the saint. In the chapel, it can be also found a painting by an unknown artist depicting Saint Anthony the Abbot.
HOW TO GET THERE
The Fort of Saint Anthony the Abbot is located on the Lungomare Imperatore Augusto, between the Basilica of San Nicola and the Margherita Theater, about 1.4 kilometers away from the Bari Centrale train station. To find it on foot, use the map below.