Cathedral - Poggiardo
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POGGIARDO

Poggiardo is a small agricultural centre in the Salento peninsular, which offers ideas for a cultural visit to its historical centre and the chance to learn about the Messapian culture by visiting the Archaeological Park of Vaste.

Vaste was inhabited since the Iron Age, reaching its maximum development towards the mid 4th Century BC, after Messapian defeat of the Greek colony in Taranto.
There have been finds from this period: a Necropolis and tombs containing funerary treasures. Here one can visit the famous Cariatidi Ipogeo (Hypogean), an ornate tomb supported by four caryatid arches.
The City became Roman after defeat of the Greek-Messapian League, commanded by King Pirro (265 BC), following the historical course of the Republic and the Empire; at the end of which there were barbaric invasions by the Visigoths and Vandals.
The City was among the first to be converted to Christianity as Salento’s geographic position was a natural point of arrival for the apostles and first Christians coming from the Holy Land.
During recent digs, four churches on four different levels were found, dating back to the V, VI, VII and IX centuries, probably dedicated to S. Stefano.
After a brief period of Ostrogoth Reign (496-535) and the Greek-Gothic War (535-553), Bastae became a Byzantine centre for many centuries. During this period, Salento saw the arrival of Basilian monks escaping from iconoclastic politics inaugurated by Leone III Isaurico during 725 and the subsequent bloom of religious hypogean art.
Being part of the Eastern Roman Empire put it at the centre of clashes between the Normans and Byzantines beginning during the 11th Century, until a sad epilogue: its destruction by the Norman Guglielmo Malo in 1156.
Here is where the history of Poggiardo began, through destruction of Bastae and the last 3 surviving rural homes (Soranello, Puzze and Casicalvi). The inhabitants entrusted the choice to an ox, deciding that they would build the new centre in the place where the animal stopped to graze.
The City passed under Swabian domination (1194) and under the Angioini (1266), and enjoyed some development due to the benefits given by the latter for siding with them. The first nucleus around the castle was built during this period.
The Aragonese then dominated the City (1442-1502) and built its City walls. It then passed over to the Spanish (1506-1734) and became and Episcopal seat in 1537, giving it more importance among centres in Puglia. It was finally passed to the Bourbons who administered until its unification to the Reign of Italy (1861).
Poggiardo immediately unveils its historical heart through numerous noble buildings in the centre (Palazzo Episcopo, Palazzo Circolone, Palazzo Cotrino, Palazzo Sticchi) and its main example of civil architecture in Palazzo Ducale Guarini.
Important artistic religious buildings are: the Baroque style Parrocchiale (Parish Church) with its Rococò façade and the Madonna della Grotta.
Once outside the City, one can visit the Rupestrian Santi Stefani Church, containing precious Medieval frescoes.

POGGIARDO
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