Its territory was inhabited
since Palaeolithic times, as shown by finds which can now
be seen in the Provincial Archaeological Museum.
south of the port in the Punta le Terrare locality where a
village from the Middle Bronze Ages (17th Century) has been
discovered. Here there are also finds of Mycenaean ceramics,
confirming strong commercial exchange with other areas of
the Mediterranean Sea.
The City was founded by the Messapians, a populous with Illyrian
origins, who arrived along the coast of Puglia during the
8th Century BC, and became part of the dodecapoli with the
name of Brention or Brentesion, meaning “Red Deer Head,”
probably deriving from the shape of the port.
After Pirro’s disembarkation in Italy (280 BC), which
came about to counteract the spread of Roman power and to
protect the Greek colony in Taranto, and after its proverbial
victories, Brindisi became a Roman colony in 266 BC, as well
as main harbour of reference on the Adriatic coast. To confirm
this, Via Appia (Appian Way) or Regina Viarum, which connected
Rome to Capua, Benevento and Oria, terminated at Brindisi.
On his return from Greece, the great poet Virgil, died on
19th September, 19 BC.
During the Imperial era, the City was equipped with thermal
baths, forums and was obviously the link between the Eastern
and Western areas of the Roman Empire.
With the advent of Christianity, the City became an Episcopal
After the fall of the Roman Empire (5th Century BC) and the
devastation of the Visigoths, Eruli and Vandals, Brindisi
was quickly annexed to the Ostrogoth Reign, which they took
over from the Byzantines during the Greek-Gothic war (535-553).
It then passed hands to the Longobards who destroyed it in
674, but who, however, never succeeded in its domination as
they halted further north of the region. It was a Byzantine
stronghold until the 10th Century, then suffered attack by
the Saracens (10th Century), who were by then owners of Sicily
since the 9th Century.
The Normans, who landed in Puglia from Northern Europe at
the beginning of the second millennium, only conquered Brindisi
in 1070. Under their domination new construction of the Cathedral
(1132), the San Benedetto Church (1089) began, whilst under
their Swabian successors, construction of the Castle was initiated.
Many knights and soldiers departed from here on their way
to the Crusades and the freedom of the Holy Land which was
dominated by Muslims. Emperor, Federick II, embarked from
here, heading the sixth Crusade in 1228.
With the advent of the Angioini (1274), the City, for a brief
period, fell under Venetian domination then was struck by
the Plague in 1348.
In 1441, after the fall of Naples, it was conquered by Alfonso
Vth of Aragona, and given to the Del Balzo Orsini Family.
In 1456, it was devastated by a violent earthquake, and then
fell into disgrace, which was resolved thanks to Venice, which
activated shipyards here and equipped the port for commercial
The Spanish, 13 years later, were once again in possession
of the City, allowing the port to return to a state of abandonment.
It also remained this way under Bourbon domination (1734).
It was only after unification to the Reign of Italy in 1860,
that the port was reborn and became part of the Valigia delle
Indie, that is a railway and marine line, which arrived in
Bombay from London, passing through Brindisi (1870 to 1914).
For a short period. Brindisi was also capital of Italy during
the Second World War between 10th September 1943 and 11th
A visit to the City can begin from Federick the Great’s
Swabian Castle (13th Century), constructed with material from
the ancient Roman amphitheatre and move on to the Aragonese
Castle (1491) which was constructed as a defence structure
for the City in case of eventual sea attacks. Close by, one
can visit the Great Fountain or Tancredi, a Roman construction
which was restored by Tancredi of Altavilla in 1192.
The Roman Cathedral, reconstructed after the 1743 earthquake,
can be found in Piazza Duomo, where one can also visit the
Portico dei Cavalieri Templari (Portal of the Templar Knights
- 14th Century). Among the many churches worth mentioning,
we would like to point out the Romanesque-Gothic Church of
Saint Maria of Casale, the Romanesque Church of Christ (1232),
Saint Benedetto (11th Century) and San Giovanni al Sepolcro