Cathedral of Otranto and Aragonese Castle

Updated at: 20-06-2024

Cathedral of Otranto and Aragonese Castle

Otranto, with its rich historical and cultural heritage, is home to two of the most fascinating monuments in Salento: the Cathedral of Santa Maria Annunziata and the Aragonese Castle.

These two sites offer a deep immersion into the history, art, and faith of the region. Below, we present a detailed guide to explore these architectural treasures.

Otranto Cathedral

Otranto Cathedral, Officially known as the Cathedral of Santa Maria Annunziata, is one of the most captivating architectural gems of Puglia.

Situated in the heart of Otranto's historic center, this cathedral is a historic monument that narrates centuries of history, art, and faith.

Can You Visit Otranto Cathedral?

Certainly, it is possible to visit the Cathedral of Otranto. Generally, entrance is free, making this experience accessible to everyone. However, there may be exceptions for special events or access to specific areas like the crypt.

Opening Hours and Access:

The cathedral is generally open to the public every day, with hours that can vary depending on the season. During the summer months, the opening hours tend to be extended to accommodate the tourist flow.

Guided Tours:

For those who wish to delve deeper into the history and artistic details of the cathedral, guided tours are available.

These tours offer a more detailed analysis of the artworks, architecture, and history of the cathedral, including the stories of the martyrs of Otranto and the famous floor mosaic. Tours can be booked in advance and are available in various languages.

Useful Tips:

  • Dress Code: As it is a place of worship, it is important to dress appropriately. It is recommended to wear clothing that covers shoulders and knees.
  • Photography: Taking photographs inside the cathedral is allowed, but it is advisable to do so without disturbing other visitors and ongoing religious ceremonies.
  • Respect for Worshippers: During the visit, remember to maintain respectful behavior, especially if religious services are taking place.

Architecture and History

The cathedral, consecrated in 1088, is a fascinating example of Romanesque architecture with Byzantine and Baroque influences. Its façade, simple yet imposing, is enriched by a beautiful 15th-century Gothic-Arabic rose window, which was further decorated in Baroque style in 1674.

The bell tower, built in the 12th century, adds another element of interest to the architectural complex.

Interiors

The central nave and the two side aisles are separated by granite columns with capitals of different styles, creating a majestic and solemn atmosphere.

Particular attention should be paid to the golden wooden ceiling in Moorish style and the precious high altar with the 18th-century silver antependium.

The Floor Mosaic

One of the most extraordinary elements of the cathedral is the floor mosaic, created by the monk Pantaleone between 1163 and 1165. This mosaic, which extends throughout the central nave, the transept, and the apse, depicts biblical and medieval scenes, including the famous "Tree of Life".

It is one of the largest and best-preserved medieval mosaics in Europe.

The Chapel of the Martyrs

Another point of interest is the Chapel of the Martyrs, which houses the bones of the citizens of Otranto who were killed by the Ottomans in 1480 for refusing to renounce their faith. This chapel, located at the end of the right aisle, is a place of intense spirituality and reflection.

Conclusion

Visiting the Cathedral of Otranto means taking a journey through history and art, immersing oneself in a place that has preserved its beauty and charm over the centuries. It is a must-see for anyone wishing to explore the wonders of Puglia.