Basilica San Nicola, Bari

Church in Bari

Basilica San Nicola Bari
CC BY-SA 4.0 / Claz82

Saint Nicholas of Myra, from Asia Minor (Anatolia), should not be confused with Saint Nicholas of Lyra, a 13th-century Franciscan scholar from Lyre, Normandy. Nicholas of Bari is renowned as a prolific miracle worker and is the patron saint of sailors, merchants, archers, thieves, children, brewers, pawnbrokers, the unmarried, and students.

Born in the 3rd century, he survived the persecutions of Diocletian and eventually became the Bishop of Myra. In 1087, merchants from Bari transported his bones from Saracen-controlled Myra to Italy. A church was consecrated in 1197 to house his relics, built during the era of Norman rule in Apulia.

The Basilica of Saint Nicholas, constructed in the Puglia-Romanesque style, features a nearly square plan that gives it a castle-like appearance. The facade is flanked by two stout towers. Inside, the basilica has a nave and two aisles supported by granite columns. The presbytery is divided by three arches held up by Byzantine columns, with a “women’s gallery” above the aisles.

The exterior is made of white limestone blocks with minimal decorations, while the interior is more inviting with columns, arches, and gilded vaults. The relics of Saint Nicholas are housed in a vault filled with marble columns and brick cross-vaults. The sacristy contains precious gifts donated by Popes, kings, and bishops.

The high altar is covered by a 12th-century ciborium or baldachin. The floors of the central apse are inlaid with marble and oriental motifs of mythological flora and fauna. The resting place of Saint Nicholas is beneath the central altar of the crypt, accessible by two staircases at the ends of the side aisles.

The basilica is located in the Largo Abate Elia district, near the Emperor Augustus waterfront (Lungomare Imperatore Augusto) and a short distance from the Bari Centrale railway station.

The Basilica San Nicola, Bari appears in our Complete Guide to Visiting Bari!

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Visiting Basilica San Nicola, Bari

Address: Basilica San Nicola, Largo Abate Elia, Bari, Metropolitan City of Bari, Italy
Duration: 20 minutes

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