The region of Puglia has four UNESCO World Heritage Sites. Two of these are unique to the region; two are part of wider sites. There are also a number of sites on the UNESCO Tentative List. Here is a complete list of World Heritage Sites in Puglia.
1. The Trulli Of Alberobello
The trulli of Alberobello are perhaps the region’s most famous UNESCO site. These white-painted limestone houses with their distinctive conical roofs date back to the 14th century and are unique to Puglia. Many are still used as dwellings today. UNESCO recognises the houses as an outstanding example of vernacular architecture, and as an instance of the Mediterranean style of dry-stone building.
You’ll see trulli dotted around southern Puglia. However the best place to find them is in Alberobello: the town’s Trulli Zone contains more than 1500 of the houses. Even the church and other public buildings are built in this style. You can explore independently, or take a walking tour. Better still, stay in one of the trulli that offer overnight accommodation.
2. Castel Del Monte
Castel del Monte is an impressive fortress set on a high plateau. It was commissioned by the Emperor Frederick II in the 13th century, intended as much as a spectacular work of architecture as for any defensive role.
The castle dominates the surrounding landscape and can be seen from miles away. It is built in a precise geometric pattern: octagonal, with eight circular towers. It combines elements of the Gothic and the Romanesque with Arabic mathematical design and classical principles. UNESCO describes it as “a unique masterpiece of medieval architecture, reflecting the humanist ideas of its founder”.
Castel del Monte is around 18 km from Andria and 55 km from Bari. There are regular buses from Andria and it is also possible to take a guided tour.
3. Longobards in Italy: Places of the Power
The Longobards in Italy, Places of the Power (568-774 AD) World Heritage Site is a multi-region site consisting of seven groups of important buildings across Italy. These reflect the cultural and political power of the Lombards during the 6th to 8th centuries, and the locations have been chosen for their artistic and religious significance.
Within Puglia the site is represented by the Sanctuary of San Michele in Monte Sant’Angelo. This is an ancient cave church – where it is said the Archangel Michael once appeared – and a historic place of pilgrimage. It was renovated by the Lombards when they arrived in Puglia’s Gargano Peninsula during the 7th century.
Read more: A Day In Monte Sant’Angelo.
4. Ancient Beech Forests
Another multi-region (and multi-country) site is the Ancient and Primeval Beech Forests of the Carpathians and Other Regions of Europe, covering 12 European countries. This is a series of ancient beech forests, showing an incredible variety of adaptation to different environments.
Ten of these forests are in Italy, including Puglia’s Umbra Forest. Covering much of the Gargano Peninsula, this is a vast forest with opportunities for hiking, cycling and wildlife spotting. Read more about The Umbra Forest, Gargano National Park.
UNESCO Tentative List
Puglia also has four sites on the UNESCO Tentative List. Romanesque cathedrals in Puglia includes six cathedrals built between the 11th and 13th centuries, and noted for their distinctive architecture. Salento and the “Barocco Leccese” is a group of towns on the Salento Peninsula, selected for their Barocco Leccese architecture, a style developed in Lecce during the 16th/17th centuries.
Also on the Salento Peninsula are the Karstic caves in prehistoric Apulia, three limestone caves of archaeological interest. And The Murge of Altamura is a massive karst plateau with caves and sinkholes, where several dinosaur footprints have been found.