Photo of Monopoli

Visit Monopoli

Monopoli is a coastal town that was once a fishing village. It is about 50 kilometers south of Bari and 40 kilometers north of Ostuni.

Explore Monopoli

Italy This Way review: Monopoli has a charming harbour and old town and a number of popular beaches.

If you approach Monopoli from the sea you get the full benefit of the old town with its fortified walls, sea-front castle and the tall white-washed buildings rising up from the water's edge. Behind you can see the domes of one of the many churches rising above the sea-front buildings.

In the pretty harbour area the water is full of small fishing boats including the traditional blue and red rowing boats called 'Gozzo' but referred to locally as 'vozz'. Some of the Gozzo offer boat trips around the edges of Monopoli explaining the local history as they go round.

The port is the most photogenic part of town and is lovely to explore as is the old town that lies behind the sea walls. As you walk round the harbour notice the mooring bollards which are ancient canons along the pier.

The castle of Monopoli was built in the 16th century under the orders of King Charles V of Spain. It is built on a promontory that was originally seperate from the medieval city. The castle is pentagonal in shape which is typical of Spanish fortresses of the time.

The castle was enlarged in the 17th century to accommodate the Spanish military and their families and it was once home to the high ranking military personnel. It later became a prison and then in 1998 it was refurbished and is now used as a conference and exhibition centre.

Along the port side of the castle take a look at the wonderful bas-relief along the walls which tells the tragic tale of the ancient Greek ferry-boat Heleanna which caught fire with 1174 people aboard.


The boat was overloaded and poorly equiped and organised for a disaster but the fishermen of Monopoli came to their aid and managed to save 1089 passengers and crew.

Also notable at the port is the Martinelli-Meo Evoli Palace. This was built in the 18th century and has a neo-Gothic loggia with 8 pointed arches overlooking the sea.

The old town has narrow streets, pretty squares, ancient palaces and quite a number of churches. The most important of these is the cathedral which was built in the 17th century on the site of a previous church. It has been built in Baroque style and has a 61 meter high bell-tower.

There are lots of pleasant cafes and restaurants where you can stop for a meal or a drink as you explore the old town. After this you could head to one of Monopoli's beaches.

Monopoli is on a stretch of coast that is considered one of the prettiest in the Bari province. North of the town and next to the town the coast is rockier with lots of pretty coves. Further south in the 'Capitolo' district there are long sandy beaches backed by sand dunes. These beaches are very popular in the summer.

Many of the beaches have sunbeds, cafes, water-sports and other amenities and Capitolo in particular has a lively nightlife with restaurants, bars and discotheques.

Attractions nearby

Polignano a Mare is another pretty seaside town close to Monopoli.

Alberobello is probably the most popular town in Apulia, famous for its cone-shaped trulli. Locorotondo is classified as one of the most beautiful villages of Italy and the area around Locorotondo also has lots of trulli.

You can find more local travel ideas in the Puglia guide.

See also: 

Photos of Monopoli

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Map of Monopoli and places to visit


Monopoli places to visit



Polignano a Mare is a charming coastal town with one of the best beaches in Puglia, dramatic cliffs and even a restaurant in a cave in the cliff face.

Polignano-a-Mare guide


Alberobello is a beautiful little town full of incredible buildings called trulli with cone-shaped roofs

Alberobello guide


Not to be missed! Locorotondo is one of the 'most beautiful villages of Italy'.

Locorotondo guide


Ostuni is known as the 'White City' for its lovely white-washed buildings.

Ostuni guide


Bari is a coastal city with an interesting historic centre.

Bari guide


Martina-Franca is a pretty hilltop town with beautiful baroque buildings.

Martina-Franca guide

...or see all our recommended places to visit in Puglia