Bari is the second largest continental city of Southern Italy and the capital of Apulia (Puglia) region, on the Adriatic Sea.
The town consists of three parts: the old town on the peninsula to the north, with the splendid Basilica of San Nicola, the Cathedral of San Sabino (1035 - 1171) and the Swabian castle, now also one of the major nightlife districts; the Murattiano town to the south with a seafront promenade, major shopping district and heart of the city, and the newest enlarged quarters all around.
Barium - the old Latin name for Bari - does not seem to have been a place of great importance in early antiquity; only bronze coins struck by it have been found. In Roman times it was the point of junction between the coast road and the Via Traiana; there was also a branch road to Tarentum from Barium. Its harbour, mentioned as early as 181 BC, was probably the principal one of the district in ancient times, as at present, and was the centre of a fishery.
Bari's greatest importance dates from the time when it became, in 852, a seat of the Saracen power being Swadan the first emir, and in 885, the residence of the Byzantine governor. In 1071 it was captured by Robert Guiscard. In 1095 Peter the Hermit preached the first crusade there. In 1156 it was razed to the ground, and has several times suffered destruction.