Is the first place we ever visited in Apulia. It ‘s an awesome city on the Adriatic Sea. Along the Adriatic coast the city is protected by a huge defensive wall with at the end of it, just before the picturesque fishing harbour, a defence tower that was built by order of Charles the Fifth. In fact, this was a castle that was surrounded on three sides by the sea. On the 4th side was once a moat, but it no longer exists. The building dates from 1525 A.C. and was also during a long period, used as a prison. Now the archaeological museum is housed in the building, but there are also regularly exhibitions by local artists. Once I managed to convince an attendant to give us permission to climb the tower and we had a magnificent view of the harbour and the city. That was the very same Charles V who was also quite active in Holland in the past. See more about this famous figure and the history of Monopoli through the years.
Monopoli Fishing Harbour
The fishing harbour is very picturesque and here you can see a magnificent Venetian balcony. The Venetians in the past were among the rulers in these parts. Formerly the wooden sailing ships moored here, now you can admire the fishing boats, very small and rather primitive as well as modern-equipped fishing boats.
Monopoli Old Town and Cathedral
Just behind the defensive wall a piece of old town that is truly unique. You can also find some great bars and eateries and near the beginning of the wall you will find the Cathedral of Monopoli. The cathedral, dedicated to the Madonna della Madia, has a special history which is also depicted in several paintings present. During my first visit here (1989 or 1990) I helped handing out clothing to the first Albanian refugees who had spontaneously jumped on a boat in the port of Tirana and were landed in Monopoli. The history of the construction of the cathedral on the other hand I was once explained by an Italian lady from originally from Monopoli, now resident in Belgium. The cathedral has been built in 1107 and completely rebuilt in the 18th century and has a wealth of materials. It is one of the most attractive examples of Baroque buildings in the region. La chiesa di S. Maria degli Amalfitani is situated near the harbor. This Romanesque style church dates from the early 12th century and was built on the existing rock settlement.
On the south side of Monopoli, just before the defence wall, an excellent seafood restaurant “Lido Bianco“, on three sides surrounded by the sea. When you drive further south (stay as close to the sea as possible), then you will find an endless series of beaches. Most beaches are paid, at least in the season, which begins in early June and runs until early September. You can also use those beaches earlier and later (until around 20 October), but the access is in general free.
If you see a beautiful wooden ship sailing along the coast, it’s the Yasemin Sultan. You can make excursions with this beauty.
With the Yasemin Sultan you can make wonderful trips along the Adriatic coast. It is possible to swim, relax or enjoy a cool drink on the stern, enjoy good music and view one of the most beautiful sunsets you’ve ever seen.
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Departure and arrival times
Boarding in Monopoli from Via Cristoforo Colombo
Boarding at 09:00 – disembarking at 13:00
Boarding at 15:00 – disembarking at 19:00
Boarding at 21:00 – disembarking at 01:00
(For adults, 2015) Depending on the season 40, 45 or 50 euros.
It is easy to swim from the boat, thanks to a convenient platform. There is no bar on board; an aperitif and some salted biscuits are included. So it’s a good idea to ask us when you do the morning trip, to prepare you a packed breakfast rather than breakfast here. Ask us timely please.
Commissioned by Emperor Traiano at the time a “shortcut” on the famous Via Appia was built, called the Via Traiana, which carried over the territory of Monopoli. There is now a landscaped park in which a part of the old road is included. When driving near Villa Lavanda on the SS 7, that’s also a part of the Via Appia.
Going south form Monopoli you arrive at Capitolo, the seaside resort of Monopoli further more south, passing al the beaches, you’ll find a bit before Saveletri the archaeological site and museum of Egnazia.
Egnazia was an ancient city just before the current Saveletri and near Fasano. Here lived the Messapi or Peucezi and it was in the fourth and third centuries BC. a center for pottery. The excavated area is situated in a beautiful natural setting and is one of the most interesting in Apulia. The city was already quoted by authors such as Pliny, Strabo and Horace and was very important in the ancient world, thanks to the presence of a port and the Via Traiana, which made it a bustling commercial centre. The oldest known habitation dating back to the Bronze Age (fifteenth century BC).
During the eleventh century BC, Egnazia was occupied by the Iapygi and in the eighth century BC began the Messapian period for the city and for the whole Salento. At the end of the third century BC began the Roman conquest. Under the Romans Egnazia was an important trading city, a mandatory stop for both those travelling by sea or by road. During the early years of Christianity Egnazia was a bishopic seat which was apparently abandoned during the Middle Ages because of the attacks by the Vandals and the Saracens. The defensive ramparts and the necropolis with its monumental tombs decorated with frescoes date back to the Messapian era.
You can view the excavations; there are picnic tables under the pine trees and an interesting museum with objects excavated from the area.
Saveletri in itself a very nice harbour and a cosy bar with delicious artesian ice creams. On the south side of town some good fish restaurants. It is also nice to stop just past Saveletri a 200m. after the big Marmeria which is right on the sea. Here you will find the most beautiful pieces of marble and granite on the beach. The sea polishes them.
On the south side of Saveletri (before the marmeria) you can also take the direction of Fasano, driving through a part of the Itrie Valley, you could visit the Zoo Safari in Fasano. Another option is to drive further south to the beaches below of Ostuni or go to the town of Ostuni itself.