Discover Canosa di Puglia

Our history

According to the legend, Canosa was founded in 1180 b.C. by the Greek hero Diomedes.

Canosa was an important region, firstly Daunian and then Roman. During time, Canosa received various cultural influences, like the greek one. Indeed many hypogea and some inscriptions have remained intact, in fact they’re still visitable in the Iliceto Palace. One of the most important historical events involving Canosa is the defeat of Roman soldiers in Canne, which were then hosted by Matrona Busa, a local noblewoman. She was then praised by the Roman Senate and Giovanni Boccaccio, in his work named “De claris mulieribus”. With the beginning of Christianity, Canosa became an important religious center. Here, The most important exponent of Christian church was Saint Sabino. Later, Canosa was invaded by various populations such as: Longobards, Byzantine, Normans and became part of Kingdom of Two Sicilies, losing importance with time. During the XIX century, in canosa were built several noble palaces and Churches, still avaiable for visits ( Sinesi Palce, Iliceto Palace). Today, Canosa is a small town of 29.000 residents with an economy mainly based on agricolture, regional and local level and tourism.

The roman bridge

The first construction dates back to the republican age and it was completed between the I and II century a.D. by the emperor Trajan, in order to connect the ancient Canusium and the area of Daunia, through the river Ofanto.

The bridge, composed by five round arches supported by huge pinnacle shaped pillars, represents a wonderful example of Roman architecture. It got its current shape and structure from various changes that happened throughout the centuries. The most important of these was made by Bourbons after the earthquake in 1731. It has a free entrance.

The Bagnoli mausoleum

Located along the path of the Via Traiana, nearby the Ofanto river, the building is a non integral temple tomb of the III century A.D.. The two floors structure, with a rectangular plan, presents a pedestal and an inferior chamber, which was covered by a barrel vault, while the superior one was probably covered by a flat roof. The masoleum mantains various coffered tombs and the construction technique is probably of the Antonine period. The site was rediscovered and restored in 1955.

Lapidarium of the city gardens

Inside the city gardens of Canosa di Puglia it’s possible to admire a piece of history, namely the Lapidarium, an archaeological site of columns, Corintian capitals and funerary reliefs. The engravings are of particular relevance, which can be found in the nearby streets. The lapidarium dates back to the imperial age, specifically to the I century A.D., but the different elements were reunited and located in the gardens in the 50s. To valorize the lapidarium are the materials used: white marble, granite and limestone. The entrance is free.

The cathedral of San Sabino

Collocated in the historical centre of Canosa, it was built after Saracens destroyed the original structure and it was consacrated by Pope Pasquale II in 1101 A.D. Throughout the centuries various events and phenomena, including earthquakes and lootings, have damaged the cathedral to such a point that it was necessary to edificate a new neoclassical prospect in the nineteenth century. On an artistic and architectonic point of view, the structure was influenced by Byzantine. The Cathedral presents a latin cross plan and three naves; it is covered by five low domes whose vaults are based on arches supported by eighteen marble pillars. Although there aren’t any frescos, inside it contains precious artistic and religious elements, such as the baldachin supported by four red marble pillars. Instead, outside the cathedral is situated the mausoleum of the norman hero of the first crusade: Boemondo D’Altavilla. The entrance is free.

Museum of the Bishops

Located in “Vittorio Veneto” square, the museum was founded in 1830 as Fracchiollas’ house, who founded the “Principe di Napoli” bank.

in 1930, following the bank’s failure, the premise was sold to the archbishop of Lecce, His Grace Francesco Minerva, who lived there until his death, in 2004. In the same year it was donated to the cathedral of Canosa, to make it a museum representing the history of the town and officially inaugurated in 2013.

It has a total of 12 halls, nine of those are used for museological displays; the remaining ones keep the original furnishing, which allows one to plunge in the atmosphere of the time. This section is still used for exhibitions and photoshoots. Peculiar is the presence of finds such as the liturgical fan, one of the only two remaining in the world, the gloves and staffs belonging to different popes, the throne of king Ferdinand II and many other wonders. Fee to enter.

Baptispery of San Giovanni

Originally it was a pagan temple or probably a Roman bath. lt became a temple Only afterwards, thanks to San Sabino (bishop of Canosa Di Puglia in VI century a.D.) and to his wonderful urbanistic and architectural project. This project worked as a “religious boundary“, it had to define the borders of the city surrounding it: in the south the church of San Pietro, in the north the baptistery of San Giovanni and the church of Santa Maria and in the southeast the church of San Leucio.

The architectual complex which the baptistery of San Giovanni belongs to, has two more buildings: the church of Santa Maria and the church of San Salvatore and it’s located nearby the “Via Traiana”. Structurally, it has a dodecagonal base with a baptismal font in the middle surrounded by an ambulatory composed by ten pillars of which we still have seven. Along the polygon’s walls instead, we have 11 foundation blocks on which probably were based the roof’s support columns. probably the baptistery was adorned by wall mosaics of which we only have 3 fragments. On the outside there were a big atrium composed by porticoed wings and an open central space; in the beginning of VII century because of a earthquake this part of building collapsed and on its ruins was build a 3 aisled church. The last change took place in the late nineteenth century when it was turned into a oil mill. Reservation is needed.

Lagrasta hypogeum

Outside the inhabited center there is an important funerary complex, consisting of three hypogea, dug in the tuff. Built between the end of the 4th and the beginning of the 3rd century BC, they were discovered in 1843 by Vito Lagrasta, to whom we owe the name. The discovery took place in a completely random way, by digging a hole for hay. The first, the largest of the three, has a Latin cross plan, is composed of nine rooms and a large corridor, decorated with semi-idoric columns. The second is instead characterized by two rooms in axis, in the past decorated by four columns,the two doric ones which are still visible and above them there were two Ionic columns that disappeared over time. The latter, last but not least, has a single dromos, which ends with a room used as a burial and a second room dug into the right wall of the hypogeum. The Hypogea of Lagrasta are a clear symbol of the life and death combination of the Canosian traditions, so it is worth visiting them.

Reservation is needed.

Hypogeum Scocchera

Two wonderful tombs of Scocchera A and B, placed one in front of the other, were found respectively by chance in 1979 and 1895. An anatomical bronze breastplate; various red-figure vases and a Celtic embossed helmet. The Scocchera tomb B, on the other hand, included statues of prayers, some earrings, a gold scepter, a series of vases with plastic decoration and glass cups. The structure was subsequently recovered and restored by the Canosa archaeological foundation thanks to the funds of 5x1000. Canosa warmly invites everyone to visit these places where to find the richest and most beautiful items of archeology, history and culture so that everyone can make a real journey through time!

Reservation is needed.

Boemondo Mausolem

At least once in life you should go to Canosa di Puglia to admire the Boemondo Mausoleum, Boemondo I d'Altavilla's funerary monument, one of the commanders of the first crusade.

The monument is located on the side of the San Sabino Cathedral and an incision of the hero's name is engraved at the center of the monument to welcome turists in the entrance.

The hero was buried there because of his mother's will, aware of her son's love for San Sabino and Canosa.

The Mausoleum was built after being inspired by the temple placed above the Saint Tomb of Gerusalem, which is divided in two parts: the higher placed with an octagonal cilinder closed off by an ovoid dome and the quadangular tomb with a semi-circular apse, covered by marble slabs. Access is provided by a bronze door with double shutters.

At the moment it can be visited.

Arch Traiano

One of the most prestigious treasures of Canosa di Puglia is a 2nd century Roman arch, called Arco di Traiano. It is also known as Porta Varrone, whose name comes from the Roman consul Gaius Terentius Varrone, who was defeated in the battle in Canne della Battaglia. The structure is located on the way called Via Traiana. The arch, partially covered in marble, is currently half buried. It is possible to identify pilasters on the outer edges that served as a support for the entablature. It was the subject of numerous restorations in the 19th century. The arch is the example of how Roman history has involved Canosa di Puglia with plenty of beautiful sites.

Ferrara thermal baths

Crossing the center of Canosa di Puglia you usually do not pay attention to an important site: the Ferrara baths. These Baths date back to the 18th century and currently are located in Piazza Terme.They are accessible through a large entrance placed at the center of the square where you can see, moreover, a black and white floor mosaic depicting a marine scene.In the past it was possible to use the bath site, for well-being and personal care, such as scented baths , in hot and cold waters. Unfortunately nowadays It is not accessible.

“Varrese” hypogeum

It dates back to the IV and III century b.C. and contains a “dromus” (walkway) and five chambers, this hypogeum is very important because inside it was found a rich funerary equipment which includes a vaste collection of cerames and vessels. In the past decades this site was unknown to the public, but in 1971 it was rediscovered and analyzed and now it can be visited.

Basilica of Santa Sofia

It's collocated in the middle of the northern area of the necropolis of Ponte della Lama. In the middle of this zone there is the church and the paleochristian catacombs; here there were found fifteen burials, a sarcophagus and coffin tombs. After these findings it was interpretated as a funerary building. It was built between the V and VI century a.D.. According to what was estabilished in the Lateran Treaty of 1929, the catacombs belong to the State of Vatican city.

Basilic Hypogeum of “Vico San Martino”

Located in the namesake street, the hypogeum has gone through various phases. Originally, in the V century b.C., it was a necropolis with shaft tombs, then in the IV/III century b.C. housing units were built around the site; there were also found structures like tanks, wells and gutters which date back to the II/I century b.C.

nowadays only furnishings remain and it is possibile to visit the most monumental tomb.

D'ambra hypogeum

D’Ambra hypogeum dates back to the end of the IV and the beginning of the III century b.C. The hypogeum, digged into the clay, presents a doric entrance at the end of the dromus, decorated with reliefs, where an architrave, a tympanum and two laterar pillars are placed.

In the hypogeum you can see a further division. A first space, where there is a sixth vault from which you can access to three burial chambers. the first is located on the back wall, while the other two are symmetrical and are located by the side walls.

Temple of Giove Toro

The temple of “Giove toro” dates back to the Roman Age and it is located in the centre of the modern city of Canosa di Puglia.

Nowadays we only keep the ruins of the temple. Originally it was a peripteral temple with six columns on the short sides and ten on the long sides, a large access staircase facing east and around there were honorary statues.

The temple was built on a public building belonging to the first century of which some mosaics still remain. Regarding the name of the temple, it has been attributed to Giove (Jupiter) because a statue of him was found here, while attribute “toro” (bull) refers to the medieval name of elevated areas.

Ileceto Palace

Iliceto Palace is the Civic Museum, located in historical center of Canosa in via Trieste e Trento, 14. At the beggining it was create as a noble palace. Later, in 1934, it became a museum. The 1st floor at the moment isn’t open, while on the ground floor there is the roman section, in wich an exhibition of epigraphs is held. Among those there is one in ancient greek, founded in Canosa area. Another considerable epigraph is the copy of a bronze tablet wich dates back to 223 A.D., and it reported the Roman decurion's names.

Basilica of San Pietro

It is the first episcopal complex of Canosa.

The originary construction dates back beetween IV and V century A.D. Although it has undergone changes over the following centuries,until the X century A.D. when due to the progressive decay it became a cementery.

Monterisi hypogeum

It is located in the street “Agli Avelli”. It’s called in this way because it was descovered in the 800s by homonymus farmer. The hypogeum is part of a facility of graves with several rooms. It is excavated in tophus, the enter is a dromus stepped. It’s composed by vestibule and in the centre there are 2 pillars, 1 cell with a gabled ceiling and a funeral bed adorned with decorated tophus. The hypogeum is composed by varius ornaments like animals reliefs sculpted in the walls. It dates back to the mid of IV century B.C.

The Daunian necropolis of Pietra Caduta

Dating back to IV-V century a.D. (Daunian age) is located in the south of Canosa di Puglia.

It has twenty-nine graves two of which are shaft graves and the others are underground chamber tombs including the typical dromos and the burial chamber. every grave has the openings in the east.

The graves are all made by the same boulder of calcarenitic rock, indeed, the archaeological site was used as a cave in the beginning of '900, therefore much of the necropolis, was dismantled.

Lomuscio thermal bath

Dating back to the 3rd century a.D. have been the subject of two excavations including a large area of which we only have 5 shafts. The places were restored and extended in late ancient age. The most characteristic element of the complex is the "phorica" with a circular plan. On this plan was planted the reservoir of the baths, including also a secondo floor occupied by the "castellum acquae". The "castellum acquae" was powered by an aqueduct. the thermal baths are located in "via venezia 20" and are publicly avaiable.