Located on the top step of the Murge, Bitetto sits in an area inhabited since the IV century. b.C., as witnessed by the discovery of some burial finds in the area, although the first written historical record dates back to 959, showing the commitment of the residents to honour an annual fee to the archbishop of Bari
In the Norman Ages, the emperor Frederico II expropriated part of the territory of the city and sold it to the emerging Altamura, where the Bitettesi settled in. Under the Angevin the settlement became one of the most wealthy and flourishing centres of the Bari area.
The town finally submitted a period of abandon around mid XVI century, due to a serious outbreak of plague. It was a Bishop seat from the IX century to 1818.
Admirable example of Apulian Romanesque, the Cathedral of San Michele Arcangelo was built between the late XI and early XII century. The main building is a Latin cross and the chapels and bell tower of the XVIII century. Inside it preserves the silver statue of the Archangel Michael in triumph, of the Neapolitan school, and the XVIII century altar in polychrome marble.
The Shrine of Beato Giacomo (Blessed James) goes back to 1432 when Pope Eugenius IV authorized the construction of a church and a convent to house a community of Friars Minor Observant. The monastery, which was also built in 1432, preserves the remains of Blessed James Illyria, who died in 1580. Inside the Convent, specifically the kitchens and the cells of the friars, are now the showrooms of the Museum of Work and Worship, where local traditional objects are on exhibit. The church has one major nave and two large aisles, covered with a barrel vault and proposes superb Baroque windows.
Not to miss: the Baron's Palace, the Sedile, the Old town centre, the imposing XIX century buildings that, today, can be rented. With the construction road, the houses, originally one conglomeration that belonged to a single Abruzzese family, where divided into single properties. Worth a visit: the Convent of Santa Chiara (1616), the Church of San Domenico (1598), the Church of San Rocco (1760), the Church of St. Joseph, the Church of Santa Maria Maddalena (XIII century), the Church Santa Maria La Veteran (built before year 1000) and the Chapel of the Blessed, where, in life, the Blessed James Illyria used to pray.