The city of Taranto was founded in 706 B.C. when a group of Spartans arrived on the coast of the gulf of Puglia. The city, called Taras, was a vital Greek colony and became one of the most significant of Magna Graecia filled with temples and wonders of the ancient world. Regrettably little remains of the ancient Taras and of the later Roman Tarentum. Relics are today confined to the great National Archaeological Museum of the city.
The old city of Taranto is on a small island between the northern spur, place of the train station, and the southern spur which olds the modern city. This small island is where you will find the cathedral, the Aragonese castle by which the only existing fragment of ancient Taranto the Doric Column stands.
The cathedral of Taranto is the oldest Romanesque church in Apulia. It was founded in 1071 on the wishes of the Norman archbishop Dragone. It was built over the foundations of a church built in the early years of Christianity. The façade is Baroque and the dome is Byzantine. The interior has three naves, separated by sixteen marble columns decorated with carved Romanesque and Byzantine capitals.
It was first built by King Ferdinand of Aragon between 1481 and 1492 after the terrible sack of Otranto by the Turks. The castle is square-shaped with four towers joined by ramparts. It was converted at the end of the XVIII century into a prison and in 1887 passed to the Navy.
This museum has an extensive collection of items from the Greek and Roman periods, such as terracotta figures, ceramics and priceless gold jewellery.