Basilica di San Nicola

sights / Religious

Basilica di San Nicola information

Bari , Italy
Piazza San Nicola
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Opening hours
7am-8.30pm Mon-Sat, to 10pm Sun
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Bari's signature basilica was one of the first Norman churches to be built in southern Italy, and is a splendid example of Puglian-Romanesque architecture. Dating to the 12th century, it was originally constructed to house the relics of St Nicholas (better known as Father Christmas), which were stolen from Turkey in 1087 by local fishing folk. Today, it is an important place of pilgrimage for both Catholics and Orthodox Christians.

St Nicholas' remains, which are said to emanate a miraculous manna liquid with special powers, are ensconced in a shrine in the beautiful vaulted crypt. Above, the interior is huge and simple with a decorative 17th-century wooden ceiling. The magnificent 13th-century ciborium over the altar is Puglia's oldest. Other items related to the basilica, including chalices, vestments and crests, are displayed in the new-ish Museo Nicolaiano nearby.