Alta Murgia National Park

Over the millennia, the territory of Alta Murgia National Park has been shaped by erosion phenomena. The canyon of Gravina in Apulia, sloping down towards Matera and Bradano, marks the south-western border of the protected area. Near Altamura, you will find the impressive karstic Pulicchio and Pulo dolines, respectively of over 100 and 70 meters of depth. Although the Park landscape has been transformed over the centuries by man, Alta Murgia preserves a fauna and flora of great interest. A visit to Alta Murgia Park should also include a visit to the thirteen towns surrounding it. Among the most interesting features characterizing the area, the archaeological sites in Botromagno, Gravina (34 hectares), the stone and tufa architectures of the historical town centers, the Romanesque-style cathedrals (Altamura, Bitonto, Ruvo), and the museums (Museo Ettore Pomarici Santomasi in Gravina, Museo Jatta in Ruvo, the State Archeological Museum in Altamura). In 1993, an extraordinary discovery was made at Pulo di Altamura, where the millenary sepulcher of one of the first ancestors of man was found, confirming the presence of human settlements in the area already during prehistory. It is the entire and perfectly preserved skeleton of a hominid (unique case in the world), belonging to an archaic species of Homo, who lived between the 200 thousand and the 400 thousand years ago. Another great discovery regarded in 1999 a field of dinosaurs’ tracks in an abandoned quarry between Altamura and Santeramo. Scattered throughout an area of about 12,000 square meters, over 30,000 dinosaurs’ tracks have been found, many of which incredibly intact and clear. It is the richest paleontological field in the world. The opposite sides of the plateau, along the ancient Roman main ways of communication represented by Via Appia and Via Traiana, are dominated by the Norman castles of Gravina, Garagnone, and Castel del Monte, built according to the will of Frederick II, Duke of Swabia. The charm of this building cannot be fully understood if we do not consider its setting: golden as the calcareous hills from where the huge stone blocks forming it were extracted, Castel del Monte dominates the top of Murge as a monument to beauty. The main human activities carried out in the area, like stock rearing and agriculture, have given birth to extremely rich and complex forms of space organization: dry-stone walls networks, hypogean villages and necropolises, rock churches and rural chapels, reservoirs and snow houses, trulli, but above all several agricultural masserie and sheep masserie, the so-called “jazzi”, situated along the ancient transhumance trails. Masserie of Alta Murgia summarize all the typologies of masserie you can find in Apulia both for their different functions and different architectural structures. With the first stage of the hermit and anchorite presence, the extraordinary and mysterious rock civilization characterizing Apulia was born: along the marshy grounds, the gorges, and the ditches. Many rock churches and chapels were built between the 9th and 14th centuries AD, while masserie and aratie regie were built during the Norman-Swabian-Angevin period. Since the 15th century, in order to protect the animals from the cold winter nights, the architectural structures for sheep breeding called “jazzi” were built: they are situated in places with a southern exposure and sheltered from the north wind and are still visible in the rocky expanses of Murge. (Fonte www.parks.it)

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Best Season:Spring, Autumnn
Popular Location:Altamura, Gravina in Puglia, Andria e Corato

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