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The Basilica of Bari by BricksandStones The Basilica of Bari by BricksandStones

This is the early medieval, Romanesque basilica of St Nicholas in Bari (Italy). It is one of the most famous, pilgrimage sites in both Southern Italy and Europe as a whole. The reason for this is because it houses the relics of St Nicholas – one of the most important figure in the Christian pantheon of saints. Although today, he is associated mainly with Christmas and gifts, in the medieval period St Nicholas was venerated as a patron saint of sailors and merchants, which made him particularly popular in the bustling ports of the Mediterranean as well as northern seas. Located right on the coast of the Adriatic, with the sea less than a 100 meters away, the basilica St Nicholas in Bari dominated the religious and artistic landscape of the medieval city and overshadowed the nearby cathedral, where the bishop of Bari resided.

Constructed sometime between 1087 and 1197, the imposing structure had also another role, it represented the new religious identity and new, Latin political realities in the southern Italy. Until 1071, Bari was ruled by the Byzantine empire and served as a center of the Catepanate of Italy – it was governed by the Catepan who was the chief Byzantine official commanding the armies of Constantinople in Italy. After these armies were defeated and Normans seized control over Bari, they sought to establish new religious and cultural centers, ones that were associated more with the new political regime, rather than with Constantinople. The translation of relics of St Nicholas, which were brought to Bari from Asia Minor in 1087, offered a great opportunity to create such a new center. Thus, the basilica of Bari is both a great pilgrimage center and a symbolic manifestation of the Western authority in the region that used to be a province of the old, Eastern Roman Empire.

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:iconbensinn:
bensinn Featured By Owner Sep 28, 2018  Hobbyist General Artist
nice shot! and a wonderful subject, never made it to Italy or Bari for that matter!

reminds me of the Saidnaya Monastery in Syria. I know I have some old photos of it somewhere I should upload them! thanks for the reminder of travels past!
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:iconbricksandstones:
BricksandStones Featured By Owner 5 days ago
You have been to Saidnaya!!?? Wow, I would love to go there one day, it was a popular pilgrimage site in the crusader period - the monastery was popularised by the Templar knights who visitied it as pilgrims.... I would be very interested to see your photos from there! I really hope that one day, it wil be safe to visit Syria again and that Syrians will enjoy peace, prosperity and freedom from opression.... Thank you very much for taking the time to view this and comment! As always, I really appreciate it (also, I am sorry for taking so long to reply!). All the best!
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:iconwoodsman2b:
woodsman2b Featured By Owner Sep 23, 2018
Hello ! Well well... I remember my teacher in uni talking about the translation of relics in the Medieval world...
Of course it was nowhere near as interesting as the way you present it...
The Norman period in Italy is so interesting, I love how it parallels what happens in England roughly at the same time,
with a conqueror imposing its new authority but having to deal with the situation that prevailed before
and the people already settled... Kudos ! And Sicily/Naples are always heavily talked about but I have the feeling that this part of Southern Italy is
a bit left aside when people evoke Normans and Angevins... So thanks a lot for your always much appreciated contributions ! :D
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:iconbricksandstones:
BricksandStones Featured By Owner Sep 24, 2018
Hello hello! It is so nice to hear from you Dylan, how are you doing? I am very glad you find this description interesting, honestly, it is a great pleasure to get some positive feedback :) I agree with your point that Southern Italy, particularly its Eastern corner (Apulia) is often left aside in historical narratives dealing with Normans. The same is true in term of the region;s Byzantine heritage - in this context Apulia is also left aside and rarely mentioned in books dealing with Byzantine history and heritage. I only learned about it more, when I discovered that there are cheap flights from Warsaw to Bari and I spent two weeks travelling around the region and learning about its vatious historic sites... There is a nice castle and cathedral in Melfi - it has a nice, Norman feel to it ( en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Castle_o… ). Thank you very much for visitng my gallery (I was worried you might have lefft DA so I am very glad that this is not true!) and please, give me best wishes to your partner and your mum :) I hope you have some great trips planned for the future - all the best!
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:iconwoodsman2b:
woodsman2b Featured By Owner Sep 25, 2018
Hello! Thank you very much for answering my comments!
Well it is a busy start of the school year in the places I teach
so unfortunately I still haven't looked through my images of Budapest
and I am not often on DA... :(
But I still watch the galleries I love, especially yours ! I didn't know there were
cheap trips from Warsaw to Bari, what a luck !
Well, here we have cheap trips from Corsica to London since this year so that's where I am headed
in October with my partner! :D
All the best !

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:iconediacar:
Ediacar Featured By Owner Sep 23, 2018  Hobbyist Traditional Artist
It's a fun coincidence, I was just reading for a course about the theft of Nicholas's relics from Myra and the statue of him the Turkish government raised for the tourists XD
About the establishment of the Normans in the catapenate, one thing that is a bit misleading about the Italian provinces of Romania is the impression that Byzantine Italy was the same as Greek Italy, which wasn't exactly the case as most of the population of the areas conquered by the Macedonian emperors were populated by Lombards, not Greeks (a lot of Greeks left Sicily after the Ifrikian advance on the island but they mostly established themselves in costal areas that were already hellenized, less in the center). Imperial control was very loose since southern Italy wasn't a valuable province (unlike Sicily). So Lombard right was used in parallel with Roman right for justice and local landlords kept their Lombard titles even if some received (sometime freely) byzantine ones. Plus they weren't enforced to convert to byzantine orthodoxy.
So the Norman conquest wasn't really a sharp cut from byzantine to Norman culture in the area (at least not immediately, but indeed, the support Manuel Komnenos received during his campaigns in the peninsula by some of the locals does show that at least some of the Italians were nostalgic of their greater independence back when they were under loose byzantine control).

Also, are you aware of any byzantine remains in Bari? I was looking for some, but there doesn't seem to be much left.
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:iconbricksandstones:
BricksandStones Featured By Owner Sep 23, 2018
First, thank you for another awesome comment! As usual, I learn new things while reading your comment, especially since somewhow, Byzantine Italy was never inclued in any of my courses and it is only generally discussed in the books I have read, without much details. You are right that the conquest was not a sharp cut although the division between Latin and Orthodox was not clear cut in the 11th C. so there was no need to enforce conversions to Latin or Byzantine rites... As for distribution of Greek population in Southern Italy, I am no expert on this but there are some villages where people still speak a local version of the Greek language - it is called Griko - check it out (here is my favourite example www.youtube.com/watch?v=htKsZV… ). When I listen to this, I sometimes imagine that these are the songs from the Catepanate :) . About monuments, there are no Byzantine remains left in Bari, unfortunately. There are some beautiful churches in the Matera region like 'Cripta del peccato originale' (it is worh checking out in google - this is a beautiful church) and in the city of Matera itself. Also there is a Byzantine church near Amalfi, its called Santa maria de olearia and, of course, the famous examples from Calabria like Stilo.... To my suprise, I found it hard to find many Byzantine churches preserved on Sicily, do you know about any? I have been to Maniace but the medieval church there has only few Byzantine elements.... Anyway, as always, thank you very much for the comment!
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:iconediacar:
Ediacar Featured By Owner Sep 23, 2018  Hobbyist Traditional Artist
It's a shame that you didn't had the opportunity to study it, but then again, nothing much was going on there, so it make sense to not give it much attention (paradoxically, it's the most well documented region of the entire empire, more than Asia minor even, because most of the administrative sources have survived).
Something fun to do is to see how much the toponymy there betrays the byzantine legacy (the name of the Basilicate region, the swap between ancient and new Calabria...) and, as you say, the survival of greek dialects there.
Thank you very much for listing those churches (and the link!)!
As for Sicily, from the top of my head, I can think only of the cuba santa domenica.
There's also the Santissima Trinità di Delia which, although dating from the Norman period, is very representative of what byzantine churches might have looked like in earlier centuries. And, naturally, there is the famous palatine chapel of Palermo which isn't technically byzantine but in the same way as San Marco, so it kinda count still I think :D (Big Grin) 
Also, the surviving byzantine churches of Sardinia might have been pretty close to the ones found in Sicily (though maybe bigger, again, Sicily was one of the most wealthy region of the empire), like the San Saturnino basilica and Nostra Segnora de Mesumundu.
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:iconscottsharp1991:
ScottSharp1991 Featured By Owner Sep 23, 2018
Love the blue sky background
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:iconbricksandstones:
BricksandStones Featured By Owner Sep 23, 2018
I am very glad you like it :) Thank you very much for viewing and taking the time to comment - even though it was Spring, the weather was very, very good in Bari. Thank you again and all the best!
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:iconmiirex:
miirex Featured By Owner Sep 22, 2018  Hobbyist Photographer
Ciekawe miejsce , warte uwieczniania na fotografii. 
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:iconbricksandstones:
BricksandStones Featured By Owner Sep 22, 2018
:) Może nie tak piękne jak góry (szczerze myślę, że raczej nie może rywalizować z pięknem gór) ale nasycone historią, i przez to porusza wyobraźnię (przynajmniej moją :) ) dziękuję za komentarz, bardzo mi miło! Wszystkiego dobrego!
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:iconmiirex:
miirex Featured By Owner Sep 23, 2018  Hobbyist Photographer
Zawsze z przyjemnością. 
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:icondashinvaine:
dashinvaine Featured By Owner Edited Sep 23, 2018
It's a funny thing how people came up with this notion of 'translation', which in this case seems a clear euphemism for 'theft'. It was said in those days (so I've read) that it wasn't really possible to steal relics, since if the saint did not wish his relics to be moved from one place to another then it would not be physically possible to move them. They weren't very consistent, since they often claimed they were moving relics to save them from pagans or Saracens. You would think it would follow from the original contention that these heathens could pose no danger to the relics, as nothing could happen to them if the saint did not approve of it. 


St Nicholas's original resting place was in Myra, Anatolia, as you know. The ancient church is still there, apparently, along with bits and pieces from the original tomb, though it has seen better days.
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:iconbricksandstones:
BricksandStones Featured By Owner Sep 22, 2018

You are quite right, I remember reading about somewhat similar paradox, when knights Templar were blamed for the fall of Acre even though they were the ones who sacrificed most defending it. The common accusation was that the city fell because the Grand Master of the Order allowed himself to be killed and all the saints. Since numerous relics were lost in Acre in 1291, it was easy to image that this was a type of penalty from saints displeased with the actions of Christians in the Levant… I was not aware that the church in Myra is partially preserved – it looks very interesting! I That would be a great site to visit one day, thank you for mentioning it and, as always, thank you for taking the time to view, read this and comment – I know it sounds repetitive, but it is always a pleasure to get some positive feedback, especially from a talented artist like you :) All the best from Warsaw!

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:icondashinvaine:
dashinvaine Featured By Owner Sep 23, 2018
There were a few contradictions in the crusading ideology- especially that God had allowed the Holy Land/Edessa/Jerusalem to fall so that Christian warriors could prove their worth in recovering it or winning martyrdom. How generous of God! Of course it was God's War, and victories were only achieved with divine aid, but defeats were also construed as divine punishment for sin. So God periodically sabotaged his own war effort because his recruits weren't holy enough. (The Crusades were also launched in part to save and protect the Eastern Christians, but when the Crusaders took Constantinople and repressed the Eastern Christians, and stole their relics, then this was because God wanted to punish the schismatist Greeks for their sins- a task that could have been left to the Turks.) 


It seems St Nicolas was buried in a reused ancient sarcophagus in Myra, which survives with a large hole in the side of it, presumably courtesy of the Genoese 'translators'. The hole was probably enlarged by people taking fragments of the sarcophagus to treat as sacred relics in their own right. I believe I heard that what remains of the sarcophagus is prone to filling with water, which some believe has healing properties.
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:iconahappierlife:
ahappierlife Featured By Owner Sep 22, 2018
Thanks so much for uploading the image and bringing it to life.
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:iconbricksandstones:
BricksandStones Featured By Owner Sep 22, 2018
There is nothing to thank for! It is a great pleasure to know that you find this sort of uploads interesting - thank you very, very much for viewing and, as always, I wish you all the best! It sounds repetetive when I write it, but I am always happy to see a comment from you!
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:iconahappierlife:
ahappierlife Featured By Owner Sep 23, 2018
It's always a joy to see your inspiring photos - you open my eyes to a world beyond the one I know.
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:icondavidmnr:
DavidMnr Featured By Owner Sep 22, 2018
always very interesting your posts!
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:iconbricksandstones:
BricksandStones Featured By Owner Sep 22, 2018
:) I am very glad you think so :) It is a pleasure to get positive feeback from a talented artist like you - thank you very much and all the best!
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:icondavidmnr:
DavidMnr Featured By Owner Sep 23, 2018
always a pleasure! thank you too!:)
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:iconbillyaustria:
BillyAustria Featured By Owner Sep 22, 2018  Hobbyist Traditional Artist
I love how you use the church to tell the story of a region shifting its identity... the image is thereby filled with meaning, and I love that :) Do you know, by any chance, how the relics ended up in Bari? Were they gifted, purchased, or perhaps stolen?
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:iconbricksandstones:
BricksandStones Featured By Owner Sep 22, 2018
Thank you for asking, the story of relics of St Nicholas is fairly similar to those of the relics of St Mark in Venice. They were stolen by Italian merchants from their burial in Myra in Asia Minor. The theft was possible because exacly at that time, the Byzantine empire lost control over Asia Minor and Myra, like other major Christian sites in the region, was overran by Islamic, Turkish forces... The Middle-East was a rich source of relics for Western Europe (relics of St Saba were also stolen in this way, as was the holy icon believed to be painted by St Luke). Thank you very much for viewing this and taking the time to read and comment, it sounds repetetive when I write it, but I really appreciate it! All the best!
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:iconchristophf:
christophf Featured By Owner Sep 22, 2018
T H N X!

great description, now, when only a handful of people going in the school for learning and only handful live his faith 
Yorus information are very important to understanding our roots, tradition, customs, and even some language phrases

:hug: from Oberschlesien
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:iconbillyaustria:
BillyAustria Featured By Owner Sep 22, 2018  Hobbyist Traditional Artist
I had the feeling that something like this might have happened, just because it is a story of Italians and Byzantines in the eleventh century we are talking about... no surprise there :D Thanks for enlightening me about this!
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:iconarte-de-junqueiro:
Arte-de-Junqueiro Featured By Owner Sep 22, 2018
Very interesting! I had no idea that the Normans had travelled so far East...
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:iconbricksandstones:
BricksandStones Featured By Owner Sep 22, 2018
:) Thank you! It is a pleasure to know that someone finds these things interesting :) Yes, after conquering southern Italy, some of the Norman families ventured even further East, the conquered Antioch and for almost 200 years, the Normans ruled parts of modern Turkey and Syria (sadly, there are very few buildings left from that period there)... Thank you very much for viewing this and for taking the time to read this and comment, I really appreciate it!
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:iconarte-de-junqueiro:
Arte-de-Junqueiro Featured By Owner Sep 22, 2018
And thank you for extending my historical knowledge!! :handshake:
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