Along the Adriatic coast between Monopoli and Savelletri is where the Archaeological Park with the ruins of Egnazia is located. This site that occupies 40 hectares of land is today the most important archaeological site that has been discovered in Puglia. The ancient Gnathis was a very important Greek-Messapian town which dated as far back as the 13th century BC.
The first human settlement dates as far back as the 13th century during the Bronze Age when a simple village of huts was built. In the 11th century BC during the Iron Age it was invaded by a civilization coming from the Balkans and called Iapigi. In the 8th century BC it was occupied by Messapians who ruled it until the arrival of the Romans at the end of the 3rd century BC when they declared it a municipality.
It was during the Roman domain that the town prospered and grew reaching its peak and prosperity. It played a strategic role due to the favorable position it occupied: the town could easily expand its trade when the Romans built the Traiana Road linking Rome to Brindisi and also improved the port facilities making Egnazia an important seaport.
Egnazia survived after the fall of the Roman Empire but suffered few attacks from Visigoths, Saracens and Turks. The town became very vulnerable and lost its importance; it was finally abandoned during the 10th century AD becoming a dead place.
An intense research activity started in 1912 and as of today only few sections of the area have been excavated. It is a beautiful and fascinating site to explore and a walk through these beautiful ruins will take all visitors back in time to a remote and unknown past. The archaeological park is open every day for visits and guided tours.
Many remains have been found from the Roman period as well as the Messapian era, many are well preserved. Lots of ceramics and vases are kept in the Museum located in the park. Remains from the Messapian period are the original defensive walls surrounding the whole urban area of about 40 hectares and the necropolis. Walls are 2Km long and 7m high. Scattered all over the park are also many foundation stones of ancient houses and roads; a cemetery with many graves and tombs decorated with fine frescoes.
There are also considerable remains of the Roman period: tracks of the Traiana Road, the Amphitheatre, the Forum and two Christian basilicas.
The Archaeological Museum of Egnazia located inside the park is house to many remains and documents the history of this town through the centuries.