Otranto: what to see, holidays and places to visit
What to see in Otranto, holidays and places to visit in this town in Puglia overlooking the Adriatic coast of the Salento peninsula.
Otranto is located in the province of Lecce and is part of the club The most beautiful villages in Italy. Otranto was anciently called Hydruntum, named after the creek Hydrus, today Hydro, which crosses the city before going to flow into the harbor. Belongs to the territory of Otranto Capo d’Otranto, generally called the Cape of Otranto, which is the easternmost point of the Italian peninsula.
This particular geographical position, projected eastward, influenced in many respects the history of Otranto. Already during messapica, in the fifth century. BC benefited from flourishing trade with Greece, Crete and all the civilizations of the Mediterranean, in the fourth century., with the split of the Roman Empire, it acquired importance, but it was mainly in the ninth century, in the Byzantine period, which began a very flourishing in the city, despite various assaults by the Turks.
In 1068 it came under Norman rule, during which it was built the beautiful cathedral that we can still admire, where in 1095, they were blessed the twelve thousand crusaders who, headed by Prince Bohemond I of Hauteville, left for the Holy Land. In 1440, the Aragonese conquered Otranto, but failed to stop the dramatic attack by the Turkish army of Mohammed II led by Gedik Ahmed Pasha, which occurred in 1480, during which the city was conquered and were massacred and beheaded eight hundred people because they refused to renounce their Christian faith.
They are the martyrs of Otranto whose bones are preserved in the Cathedral and in part in the church of Santa Caterina in Formiello, Naples. The following year, Ferdinand of Aragon freed Otranto and did strengthen the defensive structure. Then resumed the commercial activities, in particular with the Venetians, who occupied the city for a period (1496-1508).
Places to visit in Otranto
– Porta Alfonsina is the main entrance to the ancient city. It was built by Alfonso of Aragon after the vicious attack of the Turks in 1481, along with the rebuilding of the wall which was later reinforced by the Spanish viceroys. In the early nineteenth century, during the Napoleonic era, was opened along a bastion of the walls the “Porta Terra”.
– Castle of Otranto. Following the assault of the Turks in 1480 the Aragonese did expand the remains of a fort of the Byzantine period, making the castle, which together with the walls form a single defense system. The present appearance of the fortress, a masterpiece of military architecture, is due to upgrading works carried out during the rule of the Spanish viceroys.
– The Cathedral of Otranto, built from 1080 to 1088, is an elegant fusion of Byzantine, Christian and Romanesque. On the floor of the church, along the aisles, the chancel and apse, extends an exceptional mosaic commissioned by Archbishop Jonah and realized by the priest Pantaleon from 1163 to 1165. The apse of the right was made by Ferdinand I expand to accommodate the remains of the glorious Martyrs of Otranto. Very interesting is the crypt under the apse, characterized by 68 columns and remains of Byzantine frescoes.
Seaside resorts north of Otranto
– Conca Specchiulla: has a high and rocky coastline with small sandy coves, there is a holiday village built near ancient farms.
– Lakes Alimini Great and Small: they are part of a protected area are connected by a channel. They are surrounded by a lot of vegetation with many species of plants also rare.
– Baia dei Turchi: a legend tells that in this place landed the Turkish warriors during the battle of Otranto which took place in the fifteenth century. This bay is within a protected oasis of the Alimini Lakes.
– Bay of St. Stephen: there are the remains of the Tower of St. Stephen, looks mostly rocky slopes down to a small beach with the presence of lush vegetation. To the south of this bay is a tourist village with a cave inside the Rada of Caréula.
– St George’s Beach
– Beach of Frassanito
Seaside resorts south of Otranto
– Bay dell’Orte
– Punta Palascia or Cape of Otranto, is the point located to the east of Italy. It is characterized by a coast with cliffs overlooking the sea and its lighthouse which is one of the five lighthouses located in the Mediterranean Sea protected by the European Commission. It ‘an interesting tourist destination where there is the tradition of waiting for the dawn of the first day of each year being considered as the location of Italy where the sun rises first for its geographical position.
It also represents the point of separation between the Ionian Sea and the Adriatic Sea.
– Torre Sant’Emiliano is a town located south of Capo d’Otranto, with a barren landscape with little vegetation. Its name comes from the coastal tower located 50 meters above the sea level. In the area there are also some fortified farms.
– Porto Badisco is the seaside resort and tourist destination very attractive for its qualities and historical landscape. Facing the Ionian Sea is about 35 km from Lecce. Some historians agree that Badisco was the first stop on his journey of Aeneas in Italy after fleeing from Troy. To visit the Deer Cave, which houses significant Palaeolithic graffiti in an environment consisting of numerous gorges and coves very suggestive. Procedento towards Santa Cesarea-Castro-Leuca, you come to the Cave of the Witches that stands out for having an input crossed diagonally by a strip of rock.