Taranto stretches along the coast of the Ionian Sea in Salento and represents the natural view on the homonymous gulf of the Ionian arc of Taranto. Summer here is pleasantly warm and with a pleasant breeze coming from the sea. The city develops along three natural peninsulas and an islet, the latter being the historical core of the town; to embrace Taranto we think of its two seas, the Big Sea and the Little Sea.
The “Mar Grande” bathes the outer coast, enclosed in the bay bordered to the north-west by Punta Rondinella and to the south by Capo San Vito. On the other hand, the “Mar Piccolo” is a vast internal basin which joins the Mar Grande in just two points, represented by the natural canal of Porta Napoli and the navigable artificial canal that separates the historic urban settlement from the largest part of the city.
Taranto is the city par excellence that can be defined as an “open-air museum”: ancient places of worship, including the remains of the Doric Temple, archaeological remains of the Greco-Roman necropolis and chamber tombs, the Crypt of the Redeemer, palaces belonged to the noble families and illustrious personalities of the city, including Palazzo Pantaleo and Palazzo d’Ayala Valva.
The city offers one of the richest and most varied architectural panoramas of the entire peninsula: it ranges from the Romanesque-Gothic of the Church of San Domenico Maggiore to the Renaissance-style palaces of the Borgo Umbertino, to the Baroque of the Cathedral of San Cataldo, of the churches and palaces elegant in the old city, from the remains of medieval structures (such as the Torre del Gallo in the agglomeration of the historic center) to the decidedly more elegant forms of Palaces and installations in liberty and neoclassical style.
There are also numerous crypts, monasteries, shrines and votive shrines. Among the most significant monuments is the rotating Bridge, or “Ponte di San Francesco di Paola”, which connects the artificial island of “Borgo Antico” with the peninsula of “Borgo Nuovo”: opened in 1887 by Admiral Ferdinando Acton, the passage allows to cross over a 400 meters long navigable canal that connects the two seas of the city. Modernised in 1957, the bridge was dedicated to San Francesco di Paola, the patron saint of men overboard.
The ancient village, which occupies a fragment of land surrounded by waves, can boast an ancient building of great historical and archaeological interest: it is the hypogeum “De Beaumont Bonelli Bellacicco”, an imposing building that contains pieces of history more than any other charming local. A concentrate of lost memories, which start from a very distant geological era, cross the Magno-Greek, Byzantine and medieval periods, and reach the eighteenth century. Among the most impressive buildings in Taranto there is undoubtedly the Aragonese Castle, or Castel Sant’Angelo, with a massive quadrangular plan that occupies the extreme corner of the island of the Borgo Antico.
The oldest part dates back to 916, founded by the Byzantines with the aim of protecting the town from pirate attacks and the Venetian Republic.In Taranto there is also the signature of Napoleon Bonaparte: we recommend visiting the Fortress of Laclos, a fortified structure created at the behest of Napoleon at the end of the eighteenth century determined to make Taranto one of its outposts on the Mediterranean.There must also be a visit to what is considered one of the most important archaeological museums in Italy, the National Archaeological Museum of Taranto known by the acronym “MArTA”.
Here you will find collections of artefacts from the Magna Graecia era, including the famous Ori di Taranto. The museum, located in Corso Umberto I, was founded in 1887 and occupies the seat of the former convent of San Pasquale di Baylon, built in the eighteenth century.
Crossing the rooms you can experience a journey through time starting from the Neolithic phase of the Tarantino territory, to get to the Byzantine age, passing through the Greek colonisation, the Roman civilisation and the late ancient city. In one of the rooms there is also the tomb of the athlete from Taranto.