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Colossus of Barletta

This post is also available in: Polish (polski)

Barletta is a town in the Italian Apulia, which is the dream destination for lovers of monuments. On the one hand, the city is not crowded with tourists, on the other it is full of wonderful traces of the past. The most famous was in the era of crusades, but it was renowned for the Colossus of Barletta. It is thanks to transporting to Europe the spoils, mainly to Venice, surviving monuments of Constantinople, which certainly would not have survived the Turks’ conquest of the city in 1453. Thanks to the knights-robbers we can admire today, among others the so-called – Colossus of Barletta.

Colossus of Barletta is a monumental late-antique sculpture depicting one of the Eastern Roman emperors currently located in the Italian Barletta.

Barletta is a city with a great ancient history, which, however, became famous in the Middle Ages. What is particularly important is Castello Svevo, an impressive castle erected in the 10th century by the Normans. During the Crusades, it was used as a shelter for soldiers leaving for the Holy Land. The Templars and Teutonic Knights had the greatest influence here. It was expanded under the authority of Anjou, when Barletta became an important center of Spanish control.

The landmark of the fortress is of course Colossus of Barletta. The bronze statue, known as Colosso di Barletta, is 5.11 meters high, and has become the hallmark of Barletta. His dating is not certain, the uprising ranks between the 4th and the 6th centuries. On the subject of the identity of the ruler depicted, who is not sure – according to tradition, he depicts the reigning ruler of the seventh century of Heraclius. Historians prefer the thesis that it is a likeness of Theodosius, Honorius, Valentinian I or Martian. The emperor was presented in a standing position, holding a globe and a cross in his hands (originally a scepter). One way or another, it is known that the colossus was discovered in the 13th century during excavation works ordered by Emperor Frederick II Hohenstauf in Ravenna, and it is likely that he was then transported to Barletta.

The statue was robbed by the Venetians in the east during the Fourth Crusade in 1202, which ended with the looting of Constantinople by the Crusaders. The ship carrying him crashed off the coast of Barletta, and the waves threw the sculpture ashore after the Venetian ship carrying the treasures from Constantinople in the 13th century. The abandoned sculpture deteriorated, and in 1309 it was deprived of legs, which in time were melted down to the bells of the Dominican church in Manfredonia. It was not until 1491 that sculptor Fabio Alfano came from Naples to renovate the sculpture, recreating the missing parts. The restored colossus was set up on the market square in Barletta, near the church of San Sepulcro.

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