Trani Cathedral is a Roman Catholic cathedral dedicated to Saint Nicholas the Pilgrim in Trani, Apulia, south-eastern Italy. Formerly the seat of the archbishop of Trani, it is now that of the archbishop of Trani-Barletta-Bisceglie. Construction began in 1099, over the earlier church of Santa Maria della Scala, which went back to the 4th century. The new church was intended to house the relics of Saint Nicholas the Pilgrim (who died in Trani in 1094). The cathedral was dedicated as soon as they were installed, without waiting for the building to be completed.
The decisive stage of construction probably took place between about 1159 and 1186 under the leadership of Bishop Bertrando II, and the building was complete by about 1200, except for the bell tower, which was only finished in the 14th century.
The façade is accessed through a double staircase, at both sides of the Romanesque-style portal, leading to a gallery; the portal, within a blind arcade, has a decoration with some influence from Islamic art. The central bronze door was executed by Barisano da Trani in 1175; the original piece is now inside the church, while the external one is a replica made in 2012.
The façade is completed by three windows and a small rose window above the nave. They are decorated by animal figures.
The transept, facing the sea, has three apses, and also features blind arcades in Romanesque style. The side façades are also decorated with blind arcades and, on the southern side, by two mullioned windows and a rose window, while the northern side as two double and one quadruple mullioned windows.
The bell tower, standing at 59 m, was mostly built in 1230–1239, although the floors above the second one were completed only in the 14th century under bishop Giacomo Tura Scottini. As is typical in Romanesque structures, the openings (in the shape of mullioned windows) become wider in the upper floors.
The ground floor of the bell tower has an internal, ogival arcade creating a passage under it. The bell tower was completely dismantled and rebuilt in the 1950s to avoid it falling down.
The church plan has a nave and two aisles, separated by double columns that support two side matronaei. The aisles have cross vaulted ceilings, while the nave has nude trusses. The transept has also similar trusses.
The interior has lost much of its decoration, leading to the current largely bare appearance. In particular, the restoration in 1939-1942 mostly left only the medieval elements, removing later additions such as the painted wooden ceiling of the nave and the transept.
Only part of the original mosaics of the pavement, inspired by those of the Otranto Cathedral, remain in the presbytery area. These include scenes such as the allegory of Alexander the Great flying to heaven (see below) and the original sin episode with Adam and Eve.
The lower church, located under the main pavement, is divided into two main spaces: the Crypt of St. Nicholas, housing the saint's relics, and that of St. Mary. The lower church has a similar plan that the upper one and has Romanesque-style capitals. A small stairs leads to the hypogeum of St. Leucius, located below the sea level and decorated with frescoes in poor state of preservation.References:
The castle of La Iruela, small but astonishing, is located on the top of a steep crag in Sierra de Cazorla, Segura y Las Villas Natural Park. From the castle, impressive views of the surrounding area and of the town can be enjoyed.
The keep dates from the Christian era. It has a square base and small dimensions and is located at the highest part of the crag.
There are some other enclosures within the tower that create a small alcázar which is difficult to access.
In a lower area of the castle, protected with defensive remains of rammed earth and irregular masonry, is an old Muslim farmstead.
After a recent restoration, an open-air theater has been built on La Iruela castle enclosure. This theater is a tribute to the Greek and Classic Eras and holds various artistic and cultural shows throughout the year.
The first traces of human activity in La Iruela area are dated from the Copper Age. An intense occupation continued until the Bronze Age.
Originally, La Iruela (like Cazorla) was a modest farmstead. From the 11th century, a wall and a small fortress were built on the hill to protect the farmers.
Around 1231, don Rodrigo Ximénez de Rada, Archbishop of Toledo, conquered La Iruela and made it part of the Adelantamiento de Cazorla. Over the Muslim fortress, the current fortress was built.
Once the military use of the fortress ended, it was used as cemetery.