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Bisceglie, Province of Barletta Andria Trani, Puglia, Italy

Bisceglie coatofarms Bisceglie is a town of remarkable historical past, rich of ancient palaces, churches and also prehistoric monuments.

Originally a Norman stronghold surrounded by walls, it has spread in recent centuries outside the walls and is today a lively agricultural and trading center, with a hinterland cultivated with vineyards, almond and olive trees, and a remarkable coastline of bays, promontories and sea grottos.
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Info

Altitude: 15 mt a.s.l -- Population: ca. 53,000 inhabitants -- Zip/postal code: 70052 -- Phone Area Code: 080 -- Patron Saint: Sant'Antonio abate

What to see

Province of Barletta-Andria-Trani

History

The area was inhabited in prehistorical times, as shown by findings in the grottoes of Santacroce and the presence of megalithic dolmens. The name may derive from the Latin Vigiliae, that was used for the military outpost surrounded by walls and defended by seven towers on Via Traiana, or alternatively from the non-classical Latin Vescellae meaning forested area. The oak tree that for time immemorial has been the symbol of the town may be connected to pre-Roman times, when populations coming from the Arcadia region, who worshipped Jupiter Dodoneus, usually represented by an oaktree, settled in the area.

In the 11th century AD Norman count Peter I fortified the town and built a tall sighting tower, the Torre Maestra, to defend from Saracens raids the population of the 9 villages of Lombard stock in the countryside (Cirignano, Giano, Pacciano, Sagina, San Nicola, Salandro, Santo Stefano, Sant'Andrea, Zappino). In 1059 Bisceglie also had its own bishop. In later centuries the town became a flourishing fishing and trading maritime port. With the Anjou conquest, it became a fiefdom of the Del Balzo family. In the late 15th century powerful walls, able to stand cannon fire, were built, and in 1499 the town was assigned as dowry of Lucrezia Borgia to Alfonso d'Aragona, who was murdered and left one son, Rodrigo, who also died young with no heirs, so Bisceglie returned under direct royal power and throughout the 16th century acquired a remarkable autonomy.

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