In the heart of the historic centre of Bari, the Basilica of St. Nicholas is the heart of the Nicolaian citadel, visited by pilgrims from all over the world particularly from Eastern Europe.
The Basilica, rich in history and works of art of great value, is one of the places of worship where rites of different religious denominations are celebrated, specifically Catholic and Orthodox rites.
When the relics of St. Nicholas arrived in Bari, they were entrusted to Abbot Elijah, who identified the appropriate location to accommodate them in the old Court of Catepano. The area comprised of five churches, and part of the material used for the construction of the new Basilica was obtained from their demolition. Thanks to the use of material from both religious and civil buildings, the Basilica is a magnificent example of a mixture of sacred and profane. The Basilica is also a prototype of the Apulian Romanesque style, with its characteristic Latin cross plant.
The forms of Norman architecture are revealed on the facade, enclosed between the Torre del Catapano and the Torre del Milizie, which supports the portal of the lions. The side facades are finely decorated with capitals, anthropomorphic and zoomorphic motifs.
Not to be missed when visiting the interior of the Basilica is the ciborium, the marble canopy above the altar. Built before 1150 and is the oldest in Puglia. One of particular interest also, is the chair of Abbot Elijah, which together with the ciborium is one of the most representative examples of Romanesque sculpture.
The court of Catapano
The area of the Citadel was previously occupied by the Court of Catapano. Bari in 970 during the two centuries of Byzantine rule, had become Catapanato: seat of a high-ranking official, a sort of governor, who had juridiction over all the Byzantine possessions in Italy.
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