Monopoli - Città Turistica
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Rupestrian settlements

The area around the town of Monopoli is crossed by huge rifts in the rock, which create canals with an irregularly perpendicular pattern to the sea. They are ravines, dug by the rush of ancient torrents. Nature didn’t save colors in painting the Mediterranean Scrub. From asparagus to caper and mastic, vegetation and olive trees frame ancient cave churches, dug on the slopes. Carved crosses, niches and inscriptions invite to enter and pray. A theory of saints or Christ’s life episodes are frescoed on the side walls, telling stories of devotion and of a refined culture. A swarming of activities testified by windmills, oil mills, cave houses, and millstones developed around the crypts: the rupestrian culture. There are 22 known crypts, two of which are enclosed into the urban context. Among the most suggestive ones the 10th century crypt of Spirito Santo, remarkably organized in naves, imitating Romanesque churches. Under the church of Santa Maria Amalfitana, we find the homonymous crypt , articulated in a nave and two apses, cherishing a piecemeal fresco of San Nicola with his life stories. Dug into an inlet of the old harbour, the crypt of Madonna del Soccorso is located six meters under the current street level. Two pillars divide it in nave and aisles. A fresco depicting the Pantocratore towers over the apse in the crypt of San Leonardo. The divine figure, in the act of blessing with the right hand in the Greek manner, holds in the other hand a book bearing the text ‘Ego sum Lux Mundi’.