Monopoli - Città Turistica
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Città e monumenti
Abbazia S. Stefano


Another small village in which building means defence. The Abbey-fortress leads a lively period especially during the summertime when the beach is crowded.

Thanks to the Benedictine Order, since the XII to the XIVth century, the abbey was on the top of humanities and art fields. The Knights of Malta who settled here in the XVth century turned it into a castle surrounded by a perimeter wall and a moat as well. The owner that bought it during Murat period turned it into a farm-house.

The tourist, however, finds in an easy way things that ‘s worth visiting. The main door of the Romanesque church invite you at the first access in the courtyard. Even, it seems to say him/her to come into with no fear. From the saying “Cave canem” typical of roman villas to the dogs in masserie, more centuries passed by. The abbot whose name was Riccardo is believed to be Homo mitis. The abbey had many conspicuous profits so as the church was built well again. Despite the fact that craftsmen of Frederick didn’t come here to carve the stone, this classic style influenced as well the portal of S Stefano. You can see the faces of the angels on the capitals among acanthus leafs. Within the lunette you see Christ Enthroned with the Book on the knees in the act of blessing and two small figures in adoration action, maybe the Abbot Riccardo and another from the monastery. On the sides of Christ there are: S Stefano,S Giorgio, the clergyman on the left and a warrior on the right. The typology of bas-relief and the figures within the empty space like the bright mosaic recalls classic models, such as the sarchofagus in Ravenna.

On the inside, there were Renaissance echoes like the polyptich, now preserved in Boston national  museum , that came from Venice with many other golden works of art that embellished the churches in Monopoli and Apulia region as well during the XVth century. This visit has another important landmark: the rupestrian church, close to the Romanesque one. It confirms the common origins with many other monuments both in Monopoli town and its country. You can enter thanks to a staircase into that church that could be the original benedectine one: to be more precise, the church built before the abbey, dated to the XIth century. It has the apse on the left side of the entrance and a column in the middle with three arches that articulate the inner spaces.