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.