Bari (Barium in Latin, Bàrion or Vàrion in Greek, Bare in Barese Dialect) is the capital city of the province of Bari and of the Apulia (or, in Italian, Puglia) region, on the Adriatic sea, in Italy. It is the second economic centre of southern Italy and is well known as a port and university city, as well as the city of Saint Nicholas of Bari. The city itself has a decreasing population of 328,458 over 116 km², while the fast-growing
urban area counts 653,028 inhabitants over 203 km². Another 500,000 people live in the metropolitan area.
Bari is made up of four different urban sections. To the north, the closely built old town
on the peninsula between two modern harbours, with the splendid Basilica of San Nicola (Saint Nicholas), the Cathedral of San Sabino (1035 - 1171) and the Castello Svevo of Frederick II, is now also one of the major nightlife districts. The Murattiano section to the south, the modern heart of the city, is laid
out on a rectangular gird-plan with a promenade on the sea, and the major shopping district (the via Sparano and via Argiro). The more modern
city surrounding this center was the result of chaotic development during the 1960s and 1970s over the old suburbs that had
developed along roads splaying outwards from gates in the city walls. Finally, the outer suburbs have been in rapid development
during the 1990s. The city has a redeveloped airport named after Pope John Paul II, Karol Wojtyla Airport, with connections to many European destinations, including London Stansted.
Barion (Latin Barium), does not seem to have been a place of great importance in Greater Greece; only bronze coins struck by it have been found. Once it passed under Roman rule in the third century BC, it developed strategic significance as the point of junction between the
coast road and the Via Traiana; a branch road to Tarentum led from Barium. Its harbour, mentioned as early as 181 BC, was probably the principal one of the district
in ancient times, as it is at present, and was the centre of a fishery. The first historical Bishop of Bari was Gervasius who was noted at the Council of Sardica in 347. The bishops were dependent on the Patriarch of Constantinople until the 10th century.
After the devastations of the Gothic Wars, under Lombard rule a set of written regulations was established, the Consuetudines Barenses, which influenced similar written constitutions in other southern cities.
For a brief period of 20 years, Bari was captured by Islamic invaders and became the Emirate of Bari under the emir Kahfun in 847. The city was soon reconquered by the Byzantines in 870. In 885, it became the residence of the local Byzantine catapan, or governor. The failed revolt (1009-1011) of the Lombard nobles Melus of Bari and his brother-in-law Dattus, against the Byzantine governorate, though it was firmly repressed at the
Battle of Cannae (1018), offered their Norman adventurer allies a first foothold in the region. In 1025, under the Archbishop Byzantius, Bari became attached to the see of Rome and was granted "provincial" status.
In 1065, Bari was captured by Robert Guiscard, following a three-year siege. Maio of Bari (d. 1160), a Lombard merchant's son, was the third of the great admirals of Norman Sicily. The Basilica di San Nicola was founded in 1087 to receive the relics of this saint, which were surreptitiously brought from Myra in Lycia, in Byzantine territory. The saint began his development from Saint Nicolas of Myra
into Saint Nicolas of Bari and began to attract pilgrims, whose encouragement and care became central to the economy of Bari. In 1095 Peter the Hermit preached the first crusade there. In October 1098, Urban II, who had consecrated the Basilica in 1089, convened the Council of Bari, one of a series of synods convoked with the intention of reconciling the Greeks and Latins on the question of the filioque clause in the Creed, which Anselm ably defended, seated at the pope's side. The Greeks were not brought over to the Latin way of thinking, and the Great Schism was inevitable.
A civil war broke out in Bari in 1117 with the murder of the archbishop, Riso. Control of Bari was seized by Grimoald Alferanites, a native Lombard, and he was elected lord in opposition to the Normans. By 1123, he had increased ties
with Byzantium and Venice and taken the title gratia Dei et beati Nikolai barensis princeps. Grimoald increased the cult
of St Nicholas in his city. He later did homage to Roger II of Sicily, but rebelled and was defeated in 1132.
Bari was occupied by Manuel I Komnenos between 1155-1158. In 1246, Bari was sacked and razed to the ground; Frederick II, Holy Roman Emperor and King of Sicily, repaired the fortress of Baris but it was subsequently destroyed several times. Bari
recovered each time.
Early modern Bari
Isabella di Aragona, princess of Naples and widow of the Duke of Milan Gian Galeazzo Sforza, enlarged the castle, which she made her residence, 1499-1524.
After the death of Bona Sforza, Queen of Poland, Bari came to be included in the Kingdom of Naples and its history contracted to a local one, as malaria became endemic in the region. Bari was wakened from its provincial somnolence by Napoleon's brother-in-law
Joachim Murat. As Napoleonic King of Naples Murat ordered the building in 1808 of a new section of the city, laid out
on a rational grid plan, which bears his name today as the Murattiano. Under this stimulus, Bari developed into the
most important port city of the region. The legacy of Mussolini can be seen in the imposing architecture along the seafront.
The 1943 chemical warfare disaster
- Further information: Air Raid on Bari
Through a tragic coincidence intended by neither of the opposing sides in World War II, Bari gained the unwelcome distinction of being the only European city to experience chemical warfare in the course of that war.
On the night of December 2, 1943, German Junkers Ju 88 bombers attacked the port of Bari, which was a key supply center for Allied forces fighting their way up the Italian peninsula. Several Allied ships were sunk in the overcrowded
harbor, including the U.S. Liberty ship John Harvey, which was carrying mustard gas, mustard gas was also reported to have been stacked on the quayside awaiting transport. The chemical
agent was intended for use if German forces initiated chemical warfare. The presence of the gas was highly classified, and
authorities ashore had no knowledge of it. This increased the number of fatalities, since physicians — who had no idea
that they were dealing with the effects of mustard gas — prescribed treatment proper for those suffering from exposure
and immersion, which proved fatal in many cases. Because rescuers were unaware they were dealing with gas casualties many
additional casulalties were caused among the rescuers by contact with the contaminated skin and clothing of those more directly
exposed to the gas.
On the orders of allied leaders: Franklin D. Roosevelt, Winston Churchill and Dwight D. Eisenhower, records were destroyed and the whole affair was kept secret for many years after the war.
The U.S. records of the attack were declassified in 1959 but the episode remained obscure until 1967. Indeed, even today,
many "Baresi" are still unaware of what happened and why. Up to the present, there is a considerable dispute as to the number
of fatalities. In one account: "[s]ixty-nine deaths were attributed in whole or in part to the mustard gas, most of them American
merchant seamen" ; others put it as high as "more than one thousand Allied servicemen and more than one thousand Italian civilians" . Part of the confusion and controversy derives from the fact that the German attack, which became nicknamed
"The Little Pearl Harbor", was highly destructive and lethal in itself, apart from
the effects of the gas. Attribution of the causes of death to the gas, as distinct from the direct effects of the German attack,
have proved far from easy.
The affair is the subject of two books: Disaster at Bari by Glenn B. Infield and Nightmare in Bari: The World War II Liberty Ship Poison Gas Disaster and Coverup by Gerald Reminick.
Bari (Lungomare Perotti, old town view).
Bari is now mostly a modern industrial city. Nevertheless, some of Italy's most interesting and undiscovered
areas lie within the province of Bari, and the region of Puglia. Bari itself is a proud and hard-working port city with strong
traditions based on its Saint Nicholas. Bari is known throughout Italy for its strong, often crude, spoken dialect, particularly in the Old
Town, parts of which originated from a pidgin between Italian and Greek fishermen in the past, and which fishermen in Greece
can still understand today. Bari is also known for its culinary traditions, in particular Orecchiette with Cime
di rape, little ear-shaped pasta with turnip tops, and its common Sunday dish "pasta al forno", which varies from family
to family including anything from eggs to Octopus.
Basilica di San Nicola
The Basilica di San Nicola (Saint Nicholas) was founded in 1087 to receive the relics of this saint, which were brought from Myra in Lycia, and now lie beneath the altar in the crypt, where are buried the Topins, which are a legacy of old thieves converted to good faith. The church is
one of the four Palatine churches of Apulia (the others being the cathedrals of Acquaviva delle Fonti and Altamura, and the church of Monte Sant'Angelo sul Gargano.
Cathedral of St. Sabinus
Façade of San Sabino cathedral.
The church of St. Sabinus (the current Duomo of the city) was begun in Byzantine style in 1034, but was destroyed in the sack of the city of 1156.
A new building was thus built between 1170-1178, partially inspired by that of San Nicola. Of the original edifice, only traces
of the pavement are today visible in the transept.
An important example of Apulian Romanesque architecture, the church has a simple Romanesque façade with three portals; in the upper part is a rose window decorated with monstruous and fantasy figures.
The interior has a nave and two aisles, divided by sixteen columns with arcades. The crypt houses the relics of St. Sabinus
and the icon of the Madonna Odigitria.
The interior and the façade were redecorated in Baroque style during the 18th century, but these additions
were deleted in the 1950s restoration.
Fire-bombed in the early 1990s, the Petruzzelli theatre had been one of the grandest opera
houses in Italy after La Scala in Milan and the San Carlo Theatre in Naples. Host to many famous opera and ballet greats throughout the last century, the shell of the
Petruzzelli in Corso Cavour is subject to an ongoing restructuing project. Although seemingly slow, the theatre should re-open
its doors before 2010
Castello Normanno Svevo
The Norman-Hohenstaufen Castle.
The Norman-Hohenstaufen Castle, widely known as the Castello Svevo, was built by Roger II of Sicily around 1131. Destroyed in 1156, it was rebuilt by Frederick II of Hohenstaufen. The castle now serves as a gallery for a variety of temporary exhibitions in the city.
The Russian Church
The Russian Church, in the Carrassi district of Bari was built in the early 20th century to welcome
Russian pilgrims who came to the city to visit the church of Saint Nichlas in the old city where the relics of the saint remain.
Built on a large area of council-owned land, the city council and Italian national government were
recently involved in a trade-off with the Putin government in Moscow, exchanging the piece of land on which the church stands,
for, albeit indirectly, a military barracks near Bari's central station. The hand over was seen as building bridges between
the Catholic and Russian Orthodox churches.
Barivecchia, or Old Bari, is a sprawl of streets and passageways making up the section of the
city to the North of the modern Murat area. Barivecchia was until fairly recently considered a no-go area by many of Bari's
residents due to the high levels of petty crime. A large-scale redevelopment plan beginning with a new sewerage system and
followed by the development of the two main squares, Piazza Mercantile and Piazza Ferrarese has seen the opening of many pubs
and other venues. This has been welcomed by many who claim that the social life of the city, and in particular the experience
for tourists in Bari, has been improved and that jobs and revenue have been created. Others point out the effects of late-night
noise in the enclosed squares and criticise development based mainly on pubs and other such premises.
The Teatro Piccinni in Bari
- Teatro Margherita.
- Teatro Piccinni.
- Orto Botanico dell'Università di Bari, a botanical garden.
- Santa Chiara, once church of the Teutonic Knights (as Santa maria degli Alemanni) and now closed. It was restored in 1539.
- The medieval church of San Marco dei Veneziani, with a notable rose window in the façade.
- San Giorgio degli Armeni.
- Santa Teresa dei Maschi, the main Baroque church in the city (1690-1696).
- Pane e Pomodoro Beach is the main beach within reach of the city. Its reputation has for several
years suffered from the apparent presence of asbestos from nearby industrial plants.
- The eastern seafront skyline of Bari had, until spring 2006, been dominated by the monsterous apartment
complex known as Punta Perotti - a creation of the Matarrese construction empire. Clearly in violation of several fundamental
Italian building regulations, Punta Perotti became the focus of a political and environmental movement calling for its demolition.
After years of legal wrangling between the Matarrese firm, Bari Council and environmental groups such as Save the Earth, the
court ruled in favour of its demolition and thousands gathered on the Bari seafront in April 2006 to see the event.
- The grid-shaped Murat city Centre of Bari is said to be the largest shopping centre in all of Italy
and contains a large number of high-street stores and smaller shops with particular attention to high fashion and tailoring.
Bari has recently seen a proliferation of out of town hypermarkets with all manner of shops and superstores attached to them.
Fiera del Levante
The Fiera del Levante is said to be the largest trade fair in the Adriatic and involves exhibitions from many sectors and industries.
Held in September in the Fiera site on the west side of Bari city centre, the Fiera attracts many exhibitors from Italy, around
the Mediterranean, its trade corridors to the east and beyond. Mainly focused on agriculture and industry, there are also
stalls, exhibitions and presentations by a wide variety of compaines and organisations in many fields. There is also a "Fair
of Nations" which displays handcrafted and locally produced goods from all over the world.
This year's Fiera also saw an "Expo Fishing" which brought together fishing methods, tackle and know-how
from across the Mediterranean.
Saint Nicholas (Greek: Άγιος Νικόλαος
, Agios Nikolaos, "victory of the people") is the common name for Nicholas of Myra, a Christian saint and Bishop of Myra in Lycia of Anatolia (modern-day Antalya province, Turkey, though at the time it was a Greek-speaking Roman Province). Because of the many miracles attributed to his intercessions, he is also known as Saint Nicholas the Wonderworker. He had a reputation
for secret gift-giving, and is now commonly identified with Santa Claus. Nicholas was never officially canonised; his reputation simply evolved among the faithful, as was the custom in his time. In 1087, his relics were stolen to Bari in southern Italy. For this reason, he is also known as Saint Nicholas of Bari.
The historical Saint Nicholas is remembered and revered among Catholic and Orthodox Christians. He is also honoured by various Anglican and Lutheran churches. Saint Nicholas is the patron saint of sailors, merchants, archers, children, and students in Greece, Belgium, Bulgaria, Georgia, Russia, the Republic of Macedonia, Slovakia, Serbia and Montenegro. He is also the patron saint of Barranquilla (Colombia), Bari (Italy), Amsterdam (Netherlands), Beit Jala in the West Bank of Palestine and Russia. In 1809, the New-York Historical Society convened and named Sancte Claus the patron saint of Nieuw Amsterdam, the Dutch name for New York City.
Nicholas was born in Asia Minor during the third century in the Greek colony of Patara in Lycia in the Roman province of Asia- modern-day Antalya in Turkey — at a time when the region was Hellenistic in its culture and outlook. He was the only son of Christian parents named Epiphanus and Johanna, and was very religious from an early age. According to legend, Nicholas was said to have rigorously observed
the canonical fasts of Wednesdays and Fridays, even when an infant, by abstaining on those days from his mother's breast. His wealthy parents died in an epidemic while Nicholas was still young and he was raised by his uncle—also named
Nicholas—who was the bishop of Patara. He tonsured the young Nicholas as a reader, and later as presbyter (priest). Nicholas also spent a brief period of time at a monastery named Holy Sion, which had been founded by his uncle.
As the patron saint also of sailors, a legend grew that Nicholas had been a sailor or fisherman himself. However,
it is more likely that one of his family businesses involved managing a fishing fleet. When his parents died, Nicholas received
his inheritance but is said to have given it away to the poor.
Nicholas' early activities as a priest are said to have occurred during the persecution of Christians under the reign of co-ruling Roman Emperors Diocletian (reigned 284–305) and Maximian (reigned 286–305). In the Eastern Empire Galerius (reigned 305–311) continued the persecution until 311 when he issued a general edict of toleration from his deathbed. Nicholas survived this period, although his activities at the time are uncertain.
Following Galerius' death his surviving co-ruler Licinius (reigned 307–324) mostly tolerated Christians. During this period, Nicholas made a pilgrimage to Egypt and Palestine.  Upon his return, he was elected bishop of the city of Myra. Judging from tradition, he was probably well loved and respected in his area, mostly as a result
of his charitable activities. As with other bishops of the time, Nicholas' popularity would serve to ensure his position and
influence during and after his period.
The destruction of several Pagan temples is also attributed to him, among them the Temple of Artemis. Because the celebration of Diana's birth is on December 6, some authors have speculated that this date was deliberately chosen for Nicholas' feast day to overshadow or replace the Pagan celebrations. This would be in keeping with the Christian
tradition of "baptizing" certain Pagan festivals in order to gently wean newly-converted Christians away from Pagan practices.
Not only did Nicholas seek to root out paganism, he also fought against the spread of Christian heresies, especially Arianism. According to tradition, Nicholas was a participant in
the First Council of Nicaea. There, he became so angry upon hearing the views
of Arius that he rushed over to him and slapped him in the face, sending him to the ground. The council was so shocked at this that they immediately threw Nicholas out of the council and defrocked him. That
night, the tradition says, several of the bishops of the council had the same dream: they saw Christ handing Nicholas a Gospel Book and the Theotokos (Virgin Mary) handing him an omophorion, the symbol of a bishop's office. As a result of this dream, Nicholas was
restored to the episcopacy and seated again at the council. However, Methodius, while noting St Nicholas' rejection of Arianism,
did not mention his involvement at Nicaea.
Nicholas is also known for coming to the defence of the falsely accused, often preventing them
from being executed, and for his intercession on behalf of sailors and other travelers. The popular veneration of Nicholas
as a saint seems to have started relatively early. Justinian I, Emperor of the Eastern Roman Empire (reigned 527–565) is reported to have built a temple (i.e. a church building) in Nicholas' honour in Constantinople.
Celebration in the Netherlands
In the Netherlands, Saint Nicholas' Eve (December 5) is the primary occasion for gift-giving,
when his reputed birthday is celebrated. In this case, roles are reversed, though, in that Sinterklaas is the one who gives
In recent years, Christmas (along with Santa Claus) has been pushed by shopkeepers as another
gift-giving festival, with some success; although, especially for young children, Saint Nicholas' Eve is still much more important
In the days leading up to December 5 (starting when Saint Nicholas has arrived in The Netherlands
by steamboat), young children put their shoes in front of the chimneys and sing special 'Sinterklaas-songs'. Often the shoe
is filled with a carrot or some hay for the horse of St. Nicholas (called Amerigo). On the next morning they will find
a small present in their shoe, ranging from a bag of chocolate coins to a bag of marbles or some other small toy. On the evening
of December 5th, Sinterklaas brings presents to every child that has been good in the past year (in practice to all
children). This is often done by placing a sack with presents outside the house or living room, after which a neighbour or
parent bangs the door or window, pretending to be Sinterklaas' assistant. Another option is to hire or ask someone
to dress up as Sinterklaas and deliver the presents personally. Sinterklaas wears a bishop's robes including a red cape and mitre, rides a white horse over the rooftops and is assisted
by many mischievous helpers with black faces and colourful Moorish dress, dating back two centuries. These helpers are called 'Zwarte Pieten' (Black Petes).
In the past number of years, there has been a recurrent discussion about the politically incorrect
nature of the Moorish helper. In particular Dutch citizens with backgrounds from Suriname and the Netherlands Antilles feel offended by the Dutch slavery history connected to this emblem and regard the Zwarte Pieten to be racist.
Celebration in Belgium
Celebration in France
In France, Saint Nicolas is celebrated this way in the eastern part of the country (Alsace, Lorraine regions) and less strongly in the northern part of the country (Nord département). He is accompanied by "Père Fouettard", carrying a bunch of sticks with which naughty children are beaten.
Celebration in Portugal
In Portugal, St. Nicholas (São Nicolau) has been celebrated since the Middle Ages in Guimarães as the patron saint of high-school students, in the so called Nicolinas, a group of festivities
that occur from November 29th to December 7th each year.
Benjamin Britten cantata
Benjamin Britten wrote a Christmas cantata commissioned by three public schools. This tells the story of Saint Nicholas and his Christian
exploits. This is for small orchestra, three choirs, a tenor soloist (St. Nicholas), and a treble (young Saint Nicholas).
Metamorphosis in Demre
Russian Orthodox statue of Saint Nicolas, now in a corner near the church in Demre.
Noel Baba at the square in front of the church in Demre.
The metamorphosis of Saint Nicolas into the commercially more lucrative Santa Claus,
which took several centuries in Europe and America, has recently been re-enacted in the saint's home town, the city of Demre. This modern Turkish town is built near the ruins of ancient Myra. As St. Nicholas is a very
popular Orthodox saint, the city attracts many Russian tourists. A solemn bronze statue of the Saint by the Russian sculptor
Gregory Pototsky, donated by the Russian government in 2000, was given a prominent place on the square in front of the medieval
church of St. Nicholas. In 2005, mayor Suleyman Topcu had the statue replaced by a red-suited plastic Santa Claus statue,
because he wanted the central statue to be more recognizable to visitors from all over the world. Protests from the Russian
government against this action were successful only to the extent that the Russian statue was returned, without its original
high pedestal, to a corner near the church.
Restoration on Saint Nicholas' original church in Demre is currently under way. In 2007, the
Turkish Ministry of Culture finally gave permission for the Divine Liturgy to be celebrated at the site, and has even contributed the sum of forty-thousand Turkish Lira to the project.
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