Aula Magna “G. De Benedictis”
Building Polifunzionale
University School of Medicine – Policlinico Hospital
P.zza G. Cesare 11
Bari (ITALY)

Policlinico Hospital  (Piazza Giulio Cesare 11) – Main entrance

Aula Magna “G. De Benedictis” – Building Polifunzionale

The University of Bari was instituted in 1924, after several years of parliamentary discussions and local leadership’s pressures.

The Faculty of Medicine and Surgery and the annexed School of Pharmacy were the only faculties established. The new institution was thought as being an attractive cultural centre for the closest countries of the Mediterranean area – probably this was the reason why the Faculty of Medicine was instituted first. It was indeed considered to be universal and well-suited to the national political interest. A solemn ceremony at the “Teatro Petruzzelli”, with the participation of politicians and administrators, inaugurated the University on January 15, 1925. In 1932 the project designed by the engineer Giulio Marcovigi for the new Policlinic in Bari was approved. In order to build it, a consortium was constituted between the Italian State, the Province, Municipality, the University and the local Hospital. Works proceeded slowly so that at the beginning of the Second World War only some buildings were completed. When the Allies arrived, in 1943, buildings were then converted into hospitals.

At the end of 1946, the University finally acquired the Policlinic. The rebirth of the Faculty of Medicine was possible only thanks to the State’s extraordinary war contributions for the reinstatement of the damaged buildings. Between 1948 and 1967 all the transfers of administration offices, institutes and clinics to Policlinic were completed.

Between the 60’s and the 80’s the Faculty of Medicine flourished, as the University of Bari in general, thanks to the reunification of all the Clinics and Institutes in the area of the Policlinic. In 1994 it became the Faculty of Medicine’s “Teaching Centre” and the new Statute of the University of Bari introduced a financial autonomy and a re-organization. In the academic year 2012-2013, with the abolition of the Faculties, all didactic and research assignments were attributed to the Departments. In the same academic year, the School of Medicine, with coordination functions, was established.

The Organizing Committee gratefully acknowledge the Authors:
Francesco Paolo de Ceglia (Seminario di Storia della Scienza, Director), Benedetta Campanile (Seminario di Storia della Scienza), Lucia De Frenza (Seminario di Storia della Scienza), Fabio Lusito (Seminario di Storia della Scienza)

Visit the city centre

Bari’s historic centre is a city within a city, a maze of narrow alleys, courtyards, historical palaces, and bars. It houses approximately 30 churches and many wonderful buildings, such as the Basilica of San Nicola, the Romanesque Basilica of San Gregorio, the Cathedral of San Sabino, and the Castello Normanno-Svevo (Norman-Swabian Castle) built by Frederick II. Bari Vecchia (Old Bari) is the ancient heart of the city.

Norman Swabian Castle

Bari’s iconic fortress, the Norman Swabian Castle now serves as the headquarters of Puglia’s Directorate for Cultural and Landscape Heritage.

Positioned by the city’s main entrance, a few steps away from the Cathedral, the Castle today welcomes visitors before they head into the narrow alleyways of the historic centre.

The Castle was originally built by the Normans in the 12th century but was later destroyed in 1156. Frederick II  rebuilt it between 1233 and 1240, transforming it into one of the region’s most interesting fortresses, mainly thanks to its strategic position. A fascinating example of medieval construction, it also retains elements that were added in successive extensions.

Basilica of San Nicola

In the heart of Bari’s historic centre, the Basilica of San Nicola is the focal point of the Cittadella nicolaiana and a destination for pilgrims from all over the world, and especially from Eastern Europe.

Considered a prototype of Puglia’s Romanesque architecture, the Cathedral was founded in the 11th century. It has been remodelled several times over the centuries, but retains a simple exterior, with two slender towers reaching up to the sky.

A staircase leads down to the crypt where you’ll find the tomb of San Nicola (Saint Nicholas), and the entrance to a Russian Orthodox Chapel. Don’t miss the Cattedra di Elia (Elias’ Cathedra, or bishop’s throne), the medieval capitals, the ciborium, the silver altar and the golden inlays from the 17th century.

Over the years, the never-ending flow of pilgrims has increased the Basilica’s treasure. Precious votive offerings are kept in the Museum of San Nicola, along with parchments, epigraphs and finely decorated manuscripts.

Teatro Petruzzelli

The most prestigious cultural building in Bari and Puglia, the Teatro Petruzzelli is Italy’s fourth biggest theatre and the largest private theatre in Europe.

Placed on Corso Cavour, in the heart of the city, it’s not far from the Palazzo dell’Acquedotto Pugliese (Apulian Aqueduct). Inaugurated in 1903, it was destroyed by an arson attack in 1991 and reconstructed in 2009, acquiring again its former splendour.

The building’s Umbertino style, a typical Italian style of the late 19th century, fits harmoniously with the rest of the Murat district, the newer part of town. The Fondazione Lirico Sinfonica Petruzzelli oversees the rich artistic program of the theatre, which can seat up to 1,500 spectators.

Cathedral of St. Sabinus

A few steps from the castle, right at the entrance to Bari’s old town, the metropolitan cathedral of St. Sabinus is an historical episcopal see whose firm and harmonious lines reflect the architecture of the nearby Basilica of St. Nicholas. Built in the 13th century, it represents an extraordinary example of Apulian Romanesque architecture, in whose basement are kept precious archaeological finds, such as the ruins of a civic building of Roman age, a three-nave early christian basilica and a small Byzantine church.

When you step inside, your gaze roams over the three solemn naves, divided by 16 columns that support arches and fake matronea. In the 17th-century crypt you can see amazing marbles that enhance the icon of the Madonna Odegitria, which reached the port following a violent storm, as well as the relics of St. Sabinus on the main altar. The tour continues in the adjacent palace of the Curia housing the Diocesan Museum replete with precious finds and artworks.

Visitors are accompanied by the aroma of clean laundry and freshly baked focaccia and by the sight of fresh pasta drying in doorways, as they walk from Arco Basso to the area around Piazza Ferrarese, Piazza San Pietro, and the Monastery of Santa Scolastica. Other must-sees include Piazza Mercantile, the Colonna Infame, and the Library of Santa Teresa dei Maschi.