Oria, Apulia

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Comune di Oria
Panorama of Oria.jpg
Oria is located in Italy
Location of Oria in Italy
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Country Italy
Region Apulia
Province / Metropolitan city Brindisi (BR)
 • Mayor Cosimo Pomarico
 • Total 83 km2 (32 sq mi)
Elevation 83 m (272 ft)
Population (31 December 2007)[1]
 • Total 15,365
 • Density 190/km2 (480/sq mi)
Demonym(s) Oritani
Time zone CET (UTC+1)
 • Summer (DST) CEST (UTC+2)
Postal code 72024
Dialing code 0831
Patron saint Barsanuphius of Palestine
Saint day August 29
Website Official website

Oria (or Orra, Greek: Ὑρία - Hyria, Οὐρία - Uria[2]) is a town and comune in the Apulia region, in the province of Brindisi, in southern Italy. It is the see city of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Oria.


In classical times, Oria was known as Hyria (Uria) or Hyrium, a city in ancient Messapia and one of the principal Messapian cities. It was just north of the ancient town Manduria, at some distance southwest of Brundisium, and southeast of Taras/Tarentum; corresponding to the location of the modern town.

A coin from Oria, Roman age, portraying Hercules.
The castle.

According to Herodotus (7.170), it was founded by the Messapians (who according to Herodotus were originally Cretans) sometime after the abortive siege of the Sicanian city Camicus. Between 217 and 84 BC the city was minting its own coins. The coins often feature Iapagus, the Iapygian national hero.

Hyria was conquered by the Romans. It was destroyed in AD 924 and 977. In 1266, Oria was besieged by Manfred of Sicily.

Main sights

  • Castle, mostly the result of modifications from the early 13th century under Frederick II Hohenstaufen and, later, under the Angevines, who added two cylindrical towers.
  • Gate of the Jews (Italian: Porta degli Ebrei).
  • Cathedral Basilica, built from 1750 over a pre-existing building damaged by an earthquake. The interior houses numerous paintings from the 17th to the 20th century. The exterior is commanded by the large polychrome dome.
  • Church of St. Domininic, built from 1572. The interior has Baroque paintings, while also notable is the cloister of the annexed convent.
  • Church of St. Francis of Paola (late 16th century).
  • Church of St. John the Baptist, originally built in the 14th century but later included in a large Baroque edifice in the 17th century.
  • Grotto church of Madonna della Scala.
  • Bishop's Palace (16th century)

Jewish presence

Oria had one of the oldest Jewish communities in Europe. Jewish scholarship in Oria included the study of philosophy, the Talmud, languages such as Greek and Latin, and medicine and natural sciences. It was home to Shabbethai Donnolo, one of the first Hebrew writers who was native to Europe.

Ten scholars in the community were killed when Arabs under Abu Ahmad Ja'far ibn 'Ubaid conquered Oria in 925. This was the beginning of the end of Jewish presence in Oria; the last relic was an epitaph produced in 1035. It is likely, however, that Jews were living in Oria until the 15th century.

People from Oria

Jewish scholar and writer Shabbethai Donnolo was born in Oria in 913.

The neoclassisictic writer Francesco Milizia was born in Oria in 1725.

Twin cities


External links