• About

    Basilica di San Nicola (Basilica of San Nicholas) is a beautiful church located in the historical center of Bari, one of the most significant examples of the Apulian-Romanesque architecture.

     

    SHORT HISTORY

    The church was built in Romanesque style between 1087 and 1103, during the Norman domination of Apulia, to host the relics of Saint Nicholas, translated from Myra, Lycia, to Bari, on May 9, 1087.

    The relics were temporarily housed in the Monastery of St. Benedict. On October 1, 1089, the relics were transferred to the crypt of the unfinished basilica by Pope Urban II, who came to Bari specifically for this. The construction of the basilica was completed in 1103.

     

    ART AND ARCHITECTURE

    The simple and majestic facade of the basilica is divided in three parts by pilasters, crowned with small arches, has mullioned windows at the top and three portals at the bottom. Two bell towers of different styles flank the facade.

    The sides are characterized by deep blind arches and rich doors. Blind arches at the bottom and mullioned windows at the top animate the transept and the apse wall, decorated in the middle by a large window.

    The interior is divided in three naves by twelve columns, six on each side. The central nave, with trussed roof, is punctuated by three transverse arches, added in the 15th century following an earthquake that made the entire construction unsafe.

    The ceiling is carved and gilded, and decorated with paintings from the 17th century. Three solemn arches on columns divide the central nave from the presbytery. The high altar is surmounted by a ciborium of the 12th century, the oldest in Apulia.

    In the central apse, noteworthy are the floor with marble inlays and oriental motifs from the early decades of the 12th century, together with the marble episcopal chair of 1105 and also the monument of Bona Sforza, Queen of Poland, of late 16th century.

    Two staircases at the end of the side aisles lead to the crypt, as vast as the transept and supported by 26 columns decorated with Romanesque capitals. Under the central altar of the crypt, the remains of St. Nicholas rest.

     

    HOW TO GET THERE

    The church is located in Largo Abate Elia, close to the eastern edge of the Bari Vecchia (Old Bari) and the Lungomare Imperator Augusto, about 1.6 kilometers away from the Bari Centrale train station. To find it easily on the tangled streets of the historical center of the city, use the map below.

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