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This is a view of the main square of Otranto during the Beati Martiri Celebration, a 13 days festival with dance and music all night long around the small city.


Otranto is a town and commune in the province of Lecce (Apulia, Italy), in a fertile region, and once famous for its breed of horses.

Otranto is situated on the east coast of the Salento peninsula. The Strait of Otranto connects the Adriatic Sea with the Ionian Sea. The harbour is small and has little trade.
About 50 km southeast lies the promontory of Santa Maria di Leuca the southeastern extremity of Italy, the ancient Promontorium lapygium or Sallentinum.

Otranto occupies the site of the ancient Hydrus or Hydruntum, a town of Greek origin, which, in the wars of Pyrrhus and of Hannibal sided against Rome.

In Roman times it was a city in the provincia Calabria. As it is the nearest port to the eastern coast of the Adriatic Sea, it was perhaps more important than Brundisium (present Brindisi), under the Roman emperors as a point of embarkation for the East, as the distance to Apollonia was less than from Brundisium.

In the 8th century, it was for some time in the possession of duke Arechis II of Benevento. It remained in the hands of the Byzantine emperors until it was among the last cities of Apulia to surrender to the Norman Robert Guiscard in 1068, and then became part of the Principality of Taranto. In the Middle Ages the Jews had a school there.

In 1480, the Turkish fleet landed nearby and took the city and its fort. The Pope called for a crusade, with a massive force built up by Ferdinand I of Naples, among them notably troops of Hungarian king Matthias Corvinus, despite frequent Italian quarreling at the time. The Neapolitan force met with the Turks in 1481, thoroughly annihilating them and recapturing Otranto. However, in the two battles, the city was utterly destroyed, and has never since recovered its importance since the sack of Otranto by the Turks, in which 12,000 men are said to have perished — among them, Bishop Stephen Pendinelli, who was sawn to death; the "valley of the martyrs" still recalls that dreadful event. In 1537, the famous Turkish corsair and Ottoman admiral Barbarossa captured Otranto and the Fortress of Castro, but the Turks were eventually repulsed from the city and the rest of Puglia.

In 1804, the city was obliged to harbour a French garrison that was established there to watch the movements of the English fleet. Under the French name of Otranto is was created a duché grand-fief de l'Empire in the Napoleonic kingdom of Naples for Joseph Fouché, Napoleon's minister of Police (1809)

From Wikipedia

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Additional Photos by Paolo Motta (Paolo) Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Star Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 3747 W: 144 N: 8842] (41254)
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