Puglia a gateway to the East in Crusades time

Seven wars banned by Christians against Muslims to liberate the Holy Sepulcher of Jerusalem began between the 11th and 13th centuries, they are the Crusades.

Puglia was an important transit point for crusaders and pilgrims since it has always been a crossroads of peoples and cultures of the Mediterranean and a gateway to the East. Its churches, its palaces and its history of that Middle Age, which has always been rich in charm and mystery, bear witness to this.

It was, therefore, already in the first years of the Order’s life that the Templars established their domus or mansions along the transit routes to Jerusalem. As a matter of fact, the idea of the Order itself was born to defend and assist the pilgrims who went to the Holy Places. And the ports of Brindisi and Bari were the most used for departures towards the Holy Land.

To this day there are still many traces of the ancient presence of Crusaders in Puglia, some are clearly visible, others have been hidden. Many churches of this region, or many ancient buildings, have patent crosses attributable to the Knights Templar. On a tombstone of Santa Maria del Tempio in Lecce, there is an abbreviated Latin text that reads “If God is with us, who is against us?”. It later became one of the Templar mottos. In Brindisi, the last stop before the Holy Land, the Crusader left a great cultural heritage as the Holy Sepulcher and the mosaic on the floor of the cathedral which represents the battle of Roncisivalle.

Not just knights but pilgrims too left their mark in Puglia on their way to Jerusalem. Their route included the Via Traiana built between 108 and 110 A.D. The route goes from Bari to Brindisi passing through Egnazia where pilgrims heading to Jerusalem, in fact, stopped in some hospices or chapels to pray.

Check out our Puglia tours for a visit to the Knights Templar church in Trani and more.


Noteworthy legends about the Trulli of Alberobello

One of the most internationally known Italian site is in Puglia. I’m talking about Alberobello and its trulli, the famous houses with unique and unrepeatable architecture! Here are some legends about the Trulli of Alberobello.

A story that still lives today in the streets of the village is the Siamese Trullo: a house which has the particularity of possessing two domes joined together. Behind this rather special form of trullo there is the ancient ownership of two brothers. The older one was supposed to take a girl as his wife who, however, loved her younger brother. The law of quiet living won, leading the family to live together in a single large trullo. Unfortunately, as time passed, there was a big argument so at the end it was decided to modify the trullo, building two separate entrances. This modification is still visible today.

A second legend concerns a very particular treasure of the Medici Saints and their basilica in town. A local farmer, who had enriched himself by stealing goods from the poor people, decided to steal the treasure of the church. So one night he approached the two statues to steal the gold on them. As soon as he touched them, he remained attached to the statues, spending the whole night stuck in that position. The next morning, the priest found the thief there and rang the bells to raise the alarm.

Two legends about the Trulli of Alberobello with a sad epilogue, but with a very important traditional and cultural value, especially among the inhabitants of that Puglia village!

Check out our Puglia tours for a visit to Alberobello and more.