Monopoli is a small town on the Adriatic coastline south of Bari.Alberobello07

Its shoreline includes 25 blue flag sand beaches stretching over 13 km, among which the most popular are Capitolo, the rocky, narrow neck beach of Cala di Torre Incina dominated by a tower dating back to 1539, and the beach of Santo Stefano, named after the nearby Benedictine Abbey built in 1086 by Geoffrey of Hauteville.

The town’s landmark is the castle of Charles V, a stronghold going back to Aragonese times, built on the grounds of a Benedictine monastery that Charles V had restored for defensive purposes. Currently the castle hosts art exhibits and conferences.

Divided in 99 districts, the territory around Monopoli is mainly flat land, with the exception of ‘’Loggia del Pilato’’, a hill overlooking the surrounding valley dotted with fortified masserie, villas, churches and cave settlements.

The town celebrates many interesting religious festivities, such as the day of Saint Cosma and Damian on the first weekend of June, and the Madonna of Madia on August 14 and December 16, a special event featuring an historical reenactment where a raft carrying the Madonna’s icon lands on the town shore.

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The most distinguishing monument of the town is the Castle of Carlo V, a Aragon fort built upon an earlier Benedictine monastery, refurbished by Carlo V as defence from sea attacks to the city and these days a centre for exhibits and conventions. In Largo San Giovanni, at the centre of the town the Gerosolomitano Hospital is situated, founded in 1350 by the Sovereign Military Order of Malta. The old town is still surrounded by well persevered remains of the city wall. The fortified farmhouses have survived the years in perfect condition and are positioned in the middle of the seascape, at the base of the hills and on the inland plains. Nearby there are a number of interesting tourist towns that can be easily reached such as Polignano a Mare, Alberobello, Castellana Grotte, Ostuni and Fasano.
Of the many events held in this town, the procession for the Santi Cosma and Damiano is worth a mention, celebrated during the last week of June, together with the suggestive re-enactment of the landing of the float carrying the Madonna della Madia that occurs on two separate occasions: 14th August and the 16th December.

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