A look at the map of Italy showed us a small town very close to Bari, which we really wanted to visit just because of its name. Monopoli! Would there also be a castle avenue here, as in the board game?
We were excited when we boarded the regional train in Bari. The single trip cost € 3.40 and from the main station we should arrive in 40 minutes already in the small coastal town, which is just under 40 kilometers away. A beautiful train ride, you go parallel to the sea through olive groves.
Monopoli, the “only city”
Monopoli literally means “only city”. Already in classical antiquity people lived here in a small village that was founded by the Greeks. In 545 the then Ostrogothic king Totila destroyed the city of Gnathia and the inhabitants fled to Monopoli, now the only city in the region.
The next centuries of the city’s history were marked by many different rulers, who of course also left their cultural influences. When the Venetians gained control of the city in 1484, the economic boom also began. The port of Monopoli was the only safe base between Bari and Brindisi and the products of the hinterland could be shipped from here.
Later the Spaniards took over the city and from 1545 Monopoli was again a free city. They extended its walls and restored the old castle of Henry VI and Frederick II. In 1860 Monopoli was annexed to the Kingdom of Italy.
Places of interest in Monopoli
If you are looking for hours of sightseeing and an extensive shopping tour, you will be disappointed by Monopoli. The old town has its charm, but is rather something for connoisseurs and not for “hunters of sights”. A walk through the alleys is really worth it. Here you will not find one hotel complex next to the other, here you will not only meet tourists. But of course the city is not completely without highlights.
Cathedral Maria Santissima della Madia
In the place where the church stands today, numerous archaeological finds have been made. For example, the remains of a pagan temple of two ancient Mediterranean deities were found. In the 18th century, the church building was demolished and a Baroque-style cathedral was built.
70043 Monopoli BA, Italy
Castello Carlo V
Directly on the sea is the Castel Carl V, built in 1552. Carl V had high and thick walls built with four towers in the then typical 5-cornered shape. Three of the four sides face the sea, the fourth side was originally protected by a moat.
In the 17th century, in the course of an enlargement of the complex, the interiors were converted into living quarters. At the beginning of the 19th century until 1969, the castle was used as a prison.
Unfortunately, the Castel was closed during our visit. However, there is said to be a beautiful panoramic terrace and exhibitions are held inside.
Via Orazio Comes, 60,
70043 Monopoli BA, Italy
Bastione di Babula – city wall
Monopoli is surrounded by a city wall. Remains of the Bastione di Babula are still very well preserved and you can walk along them. If you walk along the sea side, you walk along a narrow path between the wall and the water. Fishermen sit here and fish, the waves crash against the shore and you have to be careful in some places not to get wet.
If you walk along the land side, you will pass some cannons. The gun emplacements in the walls were built in the 19th century. The gun emplacements point not only towards the sea, but also towards the city.
Port of Monopoli
We liked best the small old port of the city. Through a gate in a wall you enter a small bay surrounded by houses.
Here, blue fishing boats sway gently back and forth in the waves. A picturesque place and “the” photo spot of the city.
At first glance, it looks like the place has been “put” that way for visitors, but if you look around a bit, you’ll spot a fisherman or two at work.
Walk along the coast
Monopoli is very popular with vacationers. Especially the coast attracts bathers to the city. We took an extended walk along the coast and discovered some beautiful corners.
Part of the coastal landscape is characterized by the cliffs of Puglia. If you stand on the edge of the cliffs, you can look down up to 400 meters and see the waves crashing against the rocks. Bizarre stone formations, small caves and rock holes create a dreamlike landscape. The water is very clear and invites divers to discover the underwater world.
In between, during our walk, we kept coming across small bays with sandy beaches. In the summer certainly ideal for swimming. Some of the beaches even had small watchtowers for lifeguards, so ideal for swimming in the sea.
When is the best time to visit Monopoli?
We were in Monopoli at the end of November and were almost alone in the city. The most beautiful time to visit Monopoli is certainly the early summer and late summer. In August, the Italians are drawn to the city for their summer vacation.
And is Monopoly also available for purchase in Monopoli?
Of course! In the toy store in town you can find a few different editions of the game. Here a real best seller!
Yes, and if you look closely, you’ll find a few streets in the city that are reminiscent of the famous board game, at least in name. In the harbor you walk along the Via Porto (harbor street) and the Largo Castello (loosely translated castle street) leads to the Castello. Monopoli, however, has only one train station!