In the title of my first post about Bari the word "sacredness" appears. And this is because we cannot dismiss the sacred side here represented by the religious cult of San Nicola.
The Pontifical Basilica houses the relics of Saint Nicholas of Myra which is why it is dedicated to him.
The signs of this devotion are still being felt throughout all the city where it is possible to find votive shrine, bas-reliefs or simple murals depicting Saint Nicholas.
The Basilica was founded late in the year 1000 and this can be understood from its architecture: it fully respects the Apulia's Romanesque architecture but not only... Symbol of the city, this is one of the most charismatic examples of Apulia's Romanesque building.
The facade of the Basilica of Saint Nicholas is simple in its entirety although it has been remodelled several times over the centuries.
It is flanked by two towers: The Catapan’s Tower (on the right) and The Militia Tower (on the left, the lowest); three access portals find place between them announcing the interior division into a nave and two aisles.
The central portal is the main entrance to the Basilica of San Nicola and is decorated with drawings representing strong symbolic motifs.
It is also called Main Portal and two animal figures (oxen?) stand on either side of the portal almost to support the overlying columns.
Delightful architecture with remarkable details can be appreciated by turning around the Basilica: side portals, windows decorated with bas-reliefs and statues. All always following the style of the Apulia's Romanesque architecture of the time.
On the north side of the Basilica we see the beautiful Lions' Portal.
The square in front of the Basilica of Saint Nicholas is likewise waiting to be discovered. With the Basilica on your back, on the right you can see the Church of Saint Gregory the Armenian (dedicated to St. Gregory the Illuminator) and at its side a bronze statue of Saint Nicholas donated by Vladimir Putin in the name of the Russian people.
It is precisely this that leads us to understand that the Basilica of Saint Nicholas is one of the of southern Italy's most important pilgrimage destinations and a symbol of the strong connection between East and West.
Pilgrims from all over the world came in ever greater numbers to pray, and especially from Eastern Europe. The Orthodox chapel in the crypt of the Basilica is noteworthy as it's the demonstration of the coexistence of two religions: a symbol of love and devotion I'll tell you when I'll show you the inside of the Basilica.
Passing under the Angevin arch you enter the historic center of Bari, a world of colors and vitality for the tourists who will appreciate the local craftsmanship: a walk between the expected and the unplanned through all tastes and scents of Bari.
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