Bari, Italy - 5 May, 2018: Famous Saint Nicholas Saint Nicholas Basilica in old part of city Bari, Italy

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Basilica di San Nicola

Top choice in Bari

Bari's signature basilica was one of the first Norman churches to be built in southern Italy, and is a splendid (if square and solid) example of Pugliese-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 myrrh with special powers, are ensconced in a shrine in the beautiful, vaulted crypt. Above, the interior is huge and simple with a gilded 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 Museo Nicolaiano, adjacent.

Lonely Planet's must-see attractions

Nearby Bari attractions

1. Museo Nicolaiano

0.03 MILES

Exhibits artefacts from the adjacent Basilica di San Nicola, including chalices, vestments, parchments, relics and paintings.

2. Cathedral

0.14 MILES

Built over the original Byzantine church, the 12th- to 13th-century Romanesque cathedral, dedicated to San Sabino, is technically Bari's most important…

3. Museo del Succorpo della Cattedrale

0.14 MILES

This subterranean museum beneath Bari cathedral reveals well-preserved remnants of an ancient Christian basilica and various Roman ruins. This fascinating…

5. Colonna della Giustizia

0.18 MILES

The Colonna della Giustizia (Column of Justice) is the place where debtors were once tied and lashed (in the less gentle days of the 16th century).

6. Piazza Mercantile

0.19 MILES

This beautiful piazza is fronted by the Sedile, the headquarters of Bari's Council of Nobles. In the square's northeast corner is the Colonna della…

7. Castello Svevo

0.23 MILES

Roger the Norman originally built this castle in the 12th century over the ruins of a Byzantine structure. Later, Frederick II of Swabia built over the…

8. Spazio Murat

0.29 MILES

Check out this repurposed heritage building for an ever-changing series of interesting and innovative cultural and art displays, part of the nexus of…