This town in Puglia called Otranto is linked to the tragic events which took
place in July 1480, when a fleet of Turkish warships besieged the town. The
Turks’ bold plan was to subdue Italy and France and join forces with
the Muslims ruling Spain; but they were caught unawares by the unexpected resistance
of the inhabitants of Otranto, who held them at bay for fifteen days. Eventually
the Muslims broke into the town and ordered the Christians to abjure.
On their refusal, the Turks breached the Cathedral and killed Bishop Stefano Pendinelli and all the others who had taken refuge within the walls.
About 800 of the townsfolk were transported to the nearby Minerva hill and beheaded for having refused to deny their faith. They were declared martyrs by the church and their bones kept in seven tall cabinets in the Cathedral of Otranto and the church of S. Caterina in Naples.
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A cathedral completed in the XII century. It has a beautiful Baroque portal and a fine rose window. The interior is magnificent. Its floor, inlaid with one of the largest mosaics extant, was completed between 1163 and 1166.
The Church of San Pietro
A X/XI century Byzantine construction which may once have been the Cathedral. It is almost square, on a Greek-cross plan, and has three small semicircular apses.
This castle was built by Ferdinand of Aragon on the site of a pre-existing fortification from the era of Frederick II. It is laid out on a pentagonal plan with three round towers and ramparts facing the sea.