Overlooking the Adriatic Sea, Monopoli, from the Greek "monos-polis" (one city), is located in the area where once stood a peuceta village called Dyria. Like all cities in Southern Italy, Monopoli suffered the domination of Byzantine, Norman and Suabi. In 1484, with the arrival of the Venetians, the city flourished with a period of economic prosperity, mainly due to the intensification of the port and agriculture activities.
Monument symbol of the city is the Castle of Charles V, a fortress edified during the Spanish rule on a promontory, where formerly a Benedictine monastery had been built. It is surrounded by sea on three sides while the fourth was protected by a moat, that today no longer exists. The castle has pentagonal plan with towers at the top and was built on two levels. Today it is the seat of the Municipal Archaeological Museum.
The Romanesque Cathedral of Santa Maria della Madia was built around 1107 and in 1741 it was demolished to make room for a larger structure which satisfied the larger capacity demand, due to population growth. It presents a Latin cross with an impressive late Baroque style façade with two flights of stairs to the Chapel of Our Lady of Madia. The chapel is the heart of the construction and offers a grand angle view from the entrance, thanks to a very tall arch that frames the whole building.
The foundation of the Basilica Santa Maria Amalfitana is tied to the legend that some mariners of Amalfi, who survived a terrible storm, decided to go ashore and go to pray here in a Basilan monk's cave church. The current structure is in Baroque style and from the nave it is still possible to access the crypt which was the primitive Sanctuary of the mariners of Amalfi.
Not to miss: the Palazzo Palmieri (XVIII century), the former Town Hall, once the Spanish barracks, the Torre Civica where the plague spreaders used to be punished, the Santa Maria Tower, dating from year 1000, the Hospital of Gerosolomitano, founded in 1350 by the Sovereign Military Order of Malta, the present Town Hall, the Municipal Villa and the city wall.