The chief town in the province, Taranto overlooks the Gulf of the same name in the Ionian Sea. It is called the city of two seas, the Mar Grande and the Mar Piccolo, which both brush against its coastline. Due to its position, the city has always been considered of strategic importance from both a commercial and military point of view and its two ports have always hosted navy and merchant ships. The origins of the city date back to 706 B.C. when, according to the renowned Eusebio da Cesarea, colonies from Sparta settled in the area. Having destroyed the pre-existing settlement, they planted their colony and quickly integrated with new inhabitants who built little satellite fortresses on what is now the Old City or the Island. The first transformation of the city took place between the III and I century B.C. with the arrival of the Romans and the creation of a municipality. The reconstruction of Taranto’s civil and urban history is rather difficult due to a lack of evidence, finds or news determining historic periods, even if it is certain the city was destroyed by the Muslims in 927 and its reconstruction began in 967 by Niceforo II Foca.
The reconstruction of the city during the Norman and Suevian periods brought new churches and the subdivision of the city into four districts. During the periods of Angionian, Aragon and Spanish rule, the city was further fortified due to the impending danger represented by the Turks, however there was little religious construction during this period.
All the imposing fortifications in the Old Town were destroyed by decree of King Victor Emanuel II of Savoy. In 1882 it was decided to locate the Italian navy arsenal in Santa Lucia Bay, in the Mar Piccolo, to defend Italy from the dangerous Mediterranean.
Palazzo Pantaleo - Taranto
By the editorial staff
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