You cannot miss a visit to the cathedral square by night.....
The square is quite central, well lit and usually crowded with people, so no problem going to see the stunning show of the stones coloured by the artificial lights.
The facede, like usual, is facing the sunset, so wonderful colours are lit at that time of the day, if you are lucky.
Discover the three floors of the church. This is the upper and main hall...
Usually, the main door (the big one you see in the monumental facade) is closed.
To enter the upper level of the cathedral you have to enter from the right side and the ground floor, then take an internal staircase, and you will enter from there.
The harbor is primarily for local industry and fishing is prominent. There are no ferries or tourists. All is pretty and restful. If I were an independent traveller I would have enjoyed relaxing at a nearby simple hotel (there are a few). Our story is in our Intro. From the portside road we saw the apse of a very old unidentified Romanesque church (Was it part of the Templar's hospital or the Ognissanti Church?)
During the years immediately bfore the 1st Crusade (1096) the Arab seizure and closure of the pilgrimage routes to Jerusalem caused an influx of refugees from the east and a pile-up of pilgrims (tourists). Among them in 1090 appeared a handsome Greek pilgrim named Nicolo (Pelligirno, the pilgrim). He was probably autistic. He carried a large heavy wooden cross and continually sang the words "Kyrie Eleison" and uttered nothing else. The people of Trani were enthralled by the phenomenon, revered and fed him and cared for his homelessness. He suddenly took ill and died in 1094. The common people immediately took up a subscription to build a new Cathedral in his honor( replacing and standing upon the demolished old one). They buried him in a crypt at the old level now below the transept. On petition Urban II canonized him in 1099 (after he proclaimed the 1st Crusade) and S. Nicolo became the protector of Trami. And here the comely lad stands next to the harbor!!
We did not go in. It was closed for lunch. (Check this possibility before you come). I have only this picture of the doorway on the N. side at the Campanile that I think is the entrance. There are fine interior views by "effeti" on Trani that should make you anxious to go in. The sculpture on tis door is quite fine. I do not know the significance.
The surface of the Cathedral is adorned with stone carving of many types: moldings in patterns and figures, statues on standards and brackets, the rose windows (W front and N transept) around doorways and more. This was done by the teachers of Nicolo Pisano and he may have done some of the last pieces. (There is no way to know). Many are worn. The most charming are the two small elephants holding up the columns under the W. front large window below the Rose. Do not hurry and binoculars would be rewarding (or a good zoom lens)
A proud double stairway leads to a broad porch. The churchis raised to accomodate in its foundations the crypt of St. Nicola (see tip on his statue), the previous church S. Maria and below them an ancient Christian catacombs (Ipogeo di S.Leucio). There is a prominent central door flanked by blind arcades. Above this are 3 windows,the central elaborately decorated and carved. Above that is a nice rose window (partly worn and somewhat repaired). The central entrance contains a massive pair of bronze doors (16x10ft) created in 1179 by Barisano da Trani (who made similar doors for Monreale and Ravello). My picture does not show the details but previous tips by "effeti" are better than mine and illustrate the panels adequately. As one continues around the S. side of the church the blind arcade pattern continue and larged and above them are two levels of clerestory windows. There folows a transept and triple apses.
Begun in 1096 it is considered by most experts to be the finest example of Apulian Romanesque of the many churches nearby. Ones initial view of the church across the wide piazza (with the sea on the left) is a reward for church-hoppers. Unfortunately for me the sun was blazing and I am not adept at judging camera exposure, so my pictures look like what I saw without squinting. The frustration of group touring (which was how we got here) is how time is spent. It is contrlled by the guide ( and heavily influenced by the fatigues of the group). We arrived hungry, in the late lunch hour and had seen 2 churches at length in Bari,ergo we only"did" the interesting outside and did not enter.(Of couse we could not go in anyway since it was closed for a long lunch-siesta ).
Of course, you have to see the cathedral... Opening time from the mornig to 7 pm.... I'm not sure but i think no stop-
The magic of the place is at the top at sunset.
This is a very original style of romanic architecture, wide spread in Puglia. But, due also to the place near the see, this is probably the best cathedral, in my humble position.
This is part of the ground floor.... but not the lower one! In fact, there are 3 churches from different ages built one over the other.
You enter from the middle one, and then from it reach the lower and the upper one.
You will find this old ant bizanthine-style Mary wit the Baby opposite the entrance of the lower church, dedicated to St. Mary. You can't miss it!
Another picture from the lower church in the additionl picture
Too see the imponent interior of the Cathedral, you have to enter from the basement, passing a little door near the base of the bell tower, then up from a little staircase. The main door that opens over the square is usually closed.
The Swabian Castle is one of the most beautiful attraction of this city.It was built in the 13th century by the Emperor Federico II,right on the sea and in front of the Cathedral.
finally, take a look to the back side of the cathedral from the pier.... That's how it looks from the sea.
A very amazing apse....
See the other side's view in the additional pictures now VT allows
The original ancient door is now stored inside the upper church.... The original bronze pieces were obviously too at risk if left in open air and .... handy
See details in the other pictures.