Situated on the Murge Hills with steep walls, and the name probably, as tradition says, comes from the greek “Astu Neon” -new town-, which has probably been built on the rests of an ancient town about 2000 years ago.
On the other hand, the enviable and easily defendible position certainly attracted the attention of the Messapians, who were town and road builders.A built-up area of the IV-II century bC., which seemed extended on the slopes and the valley at the bottom of the hill which is documented by the discovery of tombs near the Boario market, near Villa Nazareth, Rosario and Santo Stefano: in the same area also came out pieces of pottery belonging to the roman imperial period and medieval findings
The territory of Ostuni has been lived from very ancient periods, as the important prehistoric settlements in the area of the crypt of Santa Maria Agnano nearby the homonymous masseria, where the rests of a young woman of the Palaeolithic age (about 24000 years ago) have been recovered and the numerous caves where ceramic and bone rests have been found, as well as the Neolithic period places of Lamaforca and San Biagio, further more the Morelli area with findings of the bronze period. The town is the seat of the museum “Museo di Civiltà Preclassiche della Murgia Meridionale".
Around the year 1000, Ostuni had four town gates, where nowadays only Porta Nuova and Porta San Domenico can be seen, linked by a circular road that runs along the town walls and round towers to end up in piazza del Moro, where during Middle Age all commercial and political life was concentrated. From that period also dates back the castle, built on order of Ruggero II, called “il normanno” where today resides the Bishops palace, the Cathedral and numerous residences. For defence reasons all habitations are straight nearby and the “domus palatiate” are storey built, to optimize all possible space within the town walls in width and height
The typical whitewashed painting of the house facades, depended on availability of the raw material lime and of the necessity to give more light, direct or indirect to the narrow alleys and surroundings, From the middle age part of the town remains from the origin a homogenous insular/isle which is Rione terra, perfectly functional till today.
The town had its maximum urban development during the Renaissance epoch, when apart the middle age architecture numerous buildings had the caracteristic dripstone edges??(for example the church Chiesa dello Spirito, of 1637). The city centre has been transferred from piazza del Moro to piazza Libertà, where the Townhall (ex monastry of Francescans) is situated and where in 1771 the column of San Oronzo, about 20mt tall has been raised, On top of the column the statue of the saint and at a central position and at the 4 corners the sacred image of the saints Biagio,Gaetano, Irene and Lucia.
The actual urban aspect of Ostuni is not much different as it was 3 centuries ago when the town spreaded towards the near hills of Casale,Cappuccini, Sant’Antonio and Molino a Vento.
The cathedral with a wunderful facade in gothic-romanesque which construction lasted for over 500 years started during the XV century. The 3 entrance portals with ogive archs each surmonted by a lunette and a rosewindow. The central rosewindow has a frame where the Apostles are represented. Noteworthy also the wooden chorus of XVII century.
To the patron Sant‘Oronzo is also dedicated a shrine on Mount Morone, on top of the “road of the hills” restored about half of the XVII century featuring also a carsic cave with an immage of the Vergin on one of the walls. Further the hill of Sant’Oronzo, in contrada Rialbo, the rests of the sanctuary of San Biagio, near a former medioval settlement and a crypt dedicated to the saint, who seemed to have ritired/sheltered there when finishing his assignment as Bishop of Sebaste Between Ostuni and Fasano, in contrada Piscomarano, the most antique architecture of the whole area con be found: the “dolmen” of Montalbano, literal of the french language “board/plate of stone”- a prestorical funeral or cult monument, which was built by big and thick stone plates. Two of them within the ground in an upright position, and one on top as a cover often even another one as ground wall Villanova, along the ancient via Traiana, at the splendid Ostuni coastline, is a small harbour town with a round tower construction of the XV, built maybe as an alternative to the walls built by the Angioinis by the end of the XIII century, in the same area rests of the Hellenistic and roman epoch were found.
(source: “Viaggio in Terra di Brindisi” di Angela Marinazzo)