Port of Bari
Review and History

The Port of Bari is the capital of Italy's Puglia region. Located in southeast Italy on its eastern Adriatic shores, the Port of Bari is about 184 kilometers east-northeast of the Port of Salerno on Italy's west coast and some 335 nautical miles southeast of the Port of Venice in northeast Italy. The old city of the Port of Bari is on a peninsula that divides the old and new harbors. The new city borders the coastline on either side of the peninsula, and the industrial area is inland. In 2006, almost 327 thousand people lived in the Port of Bari, and more than 653 thousand called the urban area home. While the city itself is losing population, the metropolitan area is growing quickly.

The Port of Bari is southern Italy's second most important economic center, after only Naples. In addition to being a center for higher education, the Port of Bari is a busy seaport that exports the region's agricultural products like wine, almonds, and olive oil. The industries in the Port of Bari include petroleum refining, food processing, printing, textile milling, and the manufacture of building materials, ironwork, tobacco, sulfide, machinery, and aluminum. Since the 1990s, the suburbs have grown quite rapidly.

Port History

Historians believe that the area of today's Port of Bari has been inhabited since as early as 1500 BC based on the evidence of Greek influence. Legend says that the Peucetii tribe of Apulia founded the village. The Romans took control of the area in the 3rd Century BC, and the Port of Bari was already an important harbor and seaport by the 2nd Century BC.

As a Roman port, the Port of Bari was strategically important as the meeting place of the coast road and the Via Traiana. The harbor, mentioned in documents as early as 181 BC, was an important center for trade, and it had a busy fishery.

The first Bishop of Bari attended the Council of Sardica in 347 AD. The Port of Bari's bishops served the Patriarch of Constantinople until the 900s. In the 6th Century AD, the Lombards, a Germanic people, invaded Byzantine Italy. These Gothic Wars brought devastation to the Port of Bari area.

The Lombards established the Lombard Kingdom that became the Kingdom of Italy until the late 8th Century when the Franks conquered southern Italy. Under the Lombards, a set of written regulations, the Consuetudines Barenses, was established and influenced the constitutions of other southern cities for generations.

In the late 9th Century, Islamic forces invaded and captured the Port of Bari, becoming the Emirate of Bari in 847 AD under emir Kalfun. They held the Port of Bari for only 20 years, as the Byzantines retook it in 871. The local Byzantine governor made his residence in the Port of Bari in 885.

Lombard noble Melus of Bari led an unsuccessful revolt against the Byzantines in the early 11th Century that was cruelly repressed in the Battle of Cannae in 1018 when the Byzantines called upon the Normans for aid, giving them their first foothold in the region of the Port of Bari. In 1025, the Port of Bari fell under the rule of the See of Rome and won provincial status under Archbishop Byzantius. In 1071, Norman adventurer Robert Guiscard took the Port of Bari after a hard three-year long siege.

In 1087, the relics of San Nicola were brought to the Port of Bari from Myra in Lycia and housed in the Basilica di San Nicola. Becoming known as Saint Nicholas of Bari, pilgrims came to the city to pay homage to the saint, and they became a central force in the local economy.

Urban II consecrated the Basilica in 1089. At the same time, he convened the Council of Bari with the goal of reconciling the differences between the Greek and Roman Catholic Churches. He was unable to resolve the conflicts, making inevitable the Great Schism when the two schools of thought became the Greek Orthodox and Roman Catholic churches.

In 1117, Archbishop Riso was murdered, and a civil war broke out in the Port of Bari. Lombard Grimoald Alferanites was selected lord to oppose Norman rule. By 1123, Alferanites had strengthened ties with Venice and Byzantium, and he supported the growth of the cult of Saint Nicholas in the Port of Bari. During the 1150s, Byzantine Emperor Manuel I Komnenos occupied the Port of Bari in his attempt to restore the empire in the Mediterranean region.

The Port of Bari was sacked and destroyed in 1246. Holy Roman Emperor Frederick II restored the town's fortress, but it was destroyed again several times over the next decades as the Mediterranean powers of the time struggled for dominance. Each time, the Port of Bari recovered.

Isabella di Aragona, princess of Naples, made the Port of Bari her residence in the late 15th and early 16th Centuries, and she enlarged the Port of Bari castle during her stay. When the Queen of Poland died in 1558, the Port of Bari became part of the Kingdom of Naples. During this period, the Port of Bari lost its status as malaria swept over the region.

The Port of Bari's long era of decline ended when Joachim Murat, Napoleon's brother-in-law, became King of Naples. In 1808, he ordered the construction of a new section of the city to be laid out on a grid plan. Today, that neighborhood is still called Murattiano. Under his rule, the Port of Bari became the most important seaport in the region.

During World War II, the Port of Bari became the only European city to fall prey to chemical warfare. The Port of Bari was an important supply center for the Allies as they battled their way north through Italy. In late 1943, German bombers attacked the Port of Bari , sinking several Allied ships. One of those ships, the USS John Harvey carried mustard gas, which was also stacked on the quays awaiting transport in case the Germans started chemical warfare.

Local authorities did not know the mustard gas was in the Port of Bari. When the mustard gas escaped into the environment, causing more fatalities than might have been otherwise. Local physicians had no idea how to treat the victims, and the treatments they prescribed were fatal for many patients. Rescue workers were also unaware of the cause of the injuries, and many of them were contaminated by touching the skin and clothes of those who had been exposed directly to the gas.

After the incident, Allied leaders suppressed reports of the Port of Bari event, and it was secret for many years after the war. Although the records were declassified in 1959, the information remained unnoticed until 1967. Today, many residents of the Port of Bari still do not know what happened. Information is so confused that no one is sure how many people were killed or injured. Most of the victims were American merchant seamen, and reports range from as few as 69 to one thousand deaths. The German attack came to be called the "Little Pearl Harbor," as it was very destructive apart from the mustard gas, and it is difficult to separate the casualties from the attack itself and the exposure to mustard gas.

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