Gallipoli Old Town: a Journey Through History

Explore the charming streets and historical landmarks of Gallipoli's old town and delve into its fascinating past.

Gallipoli Old Town: a Journey Through History

Nestled on the Gallipoli peninsula, the old town of Gallipoli is a charming and picturesque town that is steeped in history. Dating back to the 8th century BC, Gallipoli has been home to a succession of civilizations, each leaving their mark on the town’s architecture and culture.

Today, Gallipoli’s old town is a popular tourist destination, thanks to its well-preserved medieval architecture and fascinating historical landmarks. From the dominating Castle of Gallipoli to the imposing Fortezza, these ancient landmarks provide a fascinating glimpse into the town’s past. Wandering through the narrow streets and squares of the old town, it’s easy to imagine yourself transported back in time to centuries ago.

History of Gallipoli Old Town

The history of Gallipoli Old Town is a fascinating journey through time. From its ancient origins to the influence of the Venetians, this quaint town is steeped in historical significance.

The ancient ruins found in Gallipoli Old Town offer a glimpse into the past and bring history to life.

The Ancient Origins of Gallipoli

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Gallipoli, with its rich history and picturesque old town, has origins that date back thousands of years. The area was first settled by ancient Greek tribes around the 11th century BC, and has since been influenced by various civilizations throughout history. Here are the key historical periods that shaped Gallipoli’s ancient origins:

  1. Greek Colonization: The Greeks played a significant role in shaping Gallipoli’s early history. The region was originally known as Kallipolis, meaning “Beautiful City” in Greek. Greek colonizers established thriving settlements here, taking advantage of its strategic location as a natural harbor and trading hub.
  2. Roman Rule: During the Roman Empire, Gallipoli continued to flourish as an important port city. It served as a vital link between the eastern and western parts of the empire, facilitating trade and serving as a strategic military outpost.
  3. Byzantine Era: With the fall of the Roman Empire, Gallipoli came under Byzantine rule in the 6th century AD. The Byzantines further expanded and fortified the city, constructing impressive defensive walls to protect against invasions.
  4. Venetian Influence: In the 15th century, Gallipoli fell into the hands of the Republic of Venice. This period saw significant architectural development and the construction of iconic landmarks, such as the Castle of Rivellino and the Church of Saint Francis.

The Role of the Venetians

The Venetians played a significant role in shaping the history of Gallipoli Old Town. During the Middle Ages, the Venetians established a strong presence in the region, leaving behind a lasting legacy that can still be seen today. Here are some key aspects of their influence:

  1. Fortifications: The Venetians recognized the strategic importance of Gallipoli and fortified the town with impressive defensive structures. The most prominent of these is the imposing Castle of Gallipoli, which served as a stronghold against foreign invasions.
  2. Architectural Style: The Venetians introduced their distinctive architectural style to Gallipoli, characterized by elegant facades, intricate details, and the extensive use of local stone. Many buildings in the old town still showcase this Venetian influence, creating a captivating blend of styles.
  3. Trading Hub: Being a maritime power, the Venetians turned Gallipoli into a flourishing trading hub, connecting the East and West. This brought prosperity to the town and attracted merchants from various cultures, creating a vibrant cosmopolitan atmosphere.
  4. Maritime Heritage: The Venetians played a crucial role in developing Gallipoli’s maritime heritage. They enhanced the town’s shipbuilding industry and established a successful naval fleet, enhancing trade and ensuring the town’s protection.

Visiting Gallipoli Old Town

Gallipoli Old Town is a treasure trove of historical landmarks and charming streets that beckon visitors to explore its rich past. Here’s a guide to make the most of your visit:

Must-See Historical Landmarks:

  • Castello di Gallipoli: This imposing castle offers panoramic views of the town and the sea. Walk through its ancient corridors and imagine the battles that once raged within its walls.
  • Greek Fountain: A beautiful example of Greek architecture, this fountain served as a water source for the town in ancient times. Admire its intricate design and learn about its significance.
  • Basilica Cattedrale: Step inside this stunning cathedral and marvel at its intricate frescoes and beautiful architecture. Take a moment to appreciate the historical and religious importance of this landmark.

Exploring the Charming Streets

  • Corso Roma: This main street is lined with vibrant shops, cafes, and restaurants. Take a leisurely stroll along this bustling promenade and soak in the lively atmosphere.
  • Via Antonietta De Pace: Wander through this narrow, picturesque street adorned with colorful buildings and quaint boutiques. Don’t forget to capture the perfect Instagram-worthy photo.

Shopping in the Old Town

  • Piazza Aldo Moro: Visit this lively square where local vendors set up stalls selling traditional crafts, souvenirs, and fresh produce. Immerse yourself in the vibrant local culture while hunting for unique treasures.
  • Via Vittorio Emanuele: Explore this bustling street filled with boutique shops, offering a range of products including clothing, jewelry, and artwork. Indulge in some retail therapy as you support local businesses.

Sample the Local Cuisine

  • Trattoria La Puritate: Delight your taste buds with traditional Apulian dishes at this charming restaurant. Indulge in homemade pasta, fresh seafood, and regional specialties while enjoying the warm hospitality.

Choosing a Hotel or B&B

  • Boutique Hotel Palazzo del Corso: Experience luxury and elegance at this historical hotel, which seamlessly blends modern comforts with traditional charm. Enjoy stunning views and impeccable service.
  • B&B La Stanza Sul Mare: Stay in this cozy bed and breakfast located in the heart of the Old Town. Enjoy comfortable accommodations and a warm, homely atmosphere.

Must-See Historical Landmarks

  1. The Castello di Gallipoli: This impressive castle dates back to the 13th century and offers panoramic views of the surrounding area. Visitors can explore the castle’s towers, ramparts, and courtyards, and learn about its rich history as a defensive stronghold.
  2. The Basilica Cattedrale di Sant’Agata: This beautiful cathedral is a must-visit for history buffs and architecture enthusiasts. Built in the 17th century, it showcases a unique blend of Baroque and Renaissance styles. Inside, you can admire intricate frescoes, ornate altars, and the magnificent organ.
  3. The Greek Fountain: Located in the heart of the old town, the Greek Fountain is a symbol of Gallipoli’s ancient past. Dating back to the 1st century AD, it served as a source of water for the ancient city and stands as a testament to its enduring heritage.
  4. The Church of Santa Maria della Purità: This historic church is a true hidden gem. Adorned with stunning frescoes and intricate sculptures, it takes visitors back in time to the golden age of Gallipoli. Take a moment to appreciate the breathtaking artwork and soak in the peaceful atmosphere.
  5. The Bastione Cannone: This fortification offers a glimpse into Gallipoli’s military history. Built in the 16th century, it played a crucial role in defending the city from invaders. Today, it provides a picturesque spot to enjoy panoramic views of the sea and the old town.

Exploring the Charming Streets

The charming streets of Gallipoli’s old town are a delight to explore, offering a glimpse into the city’s rich history and vibrant culture. Wander through the narrow cobblestone alleyways lined with centuries-old architecture, and you’ll be transported back in time. Here, every corner holds a story waiting to be discovered.

1 Architectural Marvels

  • Take a leisurely stroll along Corso Roma, the main street of Gallipoli’s old town, and marvel at the stunning medieval buildings that showcase a blend of different architectural styles. Admire the intricate details of the noble palaces, adorned with ornate balconies and grand facades. Don’t miss the iconic Castello Angioino, a fortress that has guarded the city for centuries, standing tall as a testament to Gallipoli’s past.

2 Charming Piazzas

  • Savour the charm and tranquillity of the main squares dotted throughout the old town. Piazza Aldo Moro is a popular gathering place where locals and visitors come together to enjoy a coffee or gelato, while Piazza della Repubblica offers stunning panoramic views of the Ionian Sea. Sit down at one of the outdoor cafes and soak in the atmosphere, watching the world go by.

3 Artisan Shops

  • Gallipoli’s old town is lined with boutique shops and artisanal craft stores that showcase the city’s artistic talents. Browse through exquisite handmade ceramics, intricate lacework, and local artwork, and take home a unique souvenir as a memento of your visit. The craftsmen and women you’ll meet here are passionate about their work and are always happy to share their stories and insights.

4 Gastronomic Delights

  • As you wander the streets, tantalize your taste buds with the enticing aromas wafting from the city’s many cafes and restaurants. Stop by a traditional trattoria to sample the local cuisine, which heavily features fresh seafood and local produce. From the renowned “frisella” (a traditional bread-based dish) to mouthwatering gelato, Gallipoli offers a culinary journey you won’t soon forget.

Shopping and Eating in Gallipoli

Gallipoli’s old town not only offers a wealth of historical landmarks but also provides a delightful shopping and dining experience. When strolling through the charming streets, you’ll come across a variety of boutique shops, artisanal crafts, and local products unique to the region. From traditional ceramics and handwoven textiles to intricate jewelry and souvenirs, there is something for everyone. Don’t miss the bustling weekly market, where you can browse through fresh produce, spices, and traditional delicacies.

For food enthusiasts, Gallipoli’s old town is a gastronomic paradise. The town is renowned for its seafood, and you can savor the freshest catch of the day at the local seafood restaurants dotted along the coast. Indulge in mouthwatering dishes like spaghetti alle vongole (spaghetti with clams) or grilled sea bass, prepared with the finest local ingredients and accompanied by a glass of Puglian wine.

If you prefer a more casual dining experience, don’t miss the opportunity to try Gallipoli’s famous street food. Grab a panini filled with local cured meats and cheeses or try the irresistible pasticciotto, a traditional pastry with a creamy custard filling. Take your time to explore the narrow streets and discover hidden gelaterias, where you can sample artisanal gelato in unique and delicious flavors.

Shopping in the Old Town

When visiting Gallipoli’s old town, you’ll find a charming array of shops that offer a unique shopping experience. From boutiques to souvenir stores, there’s something for everyone. Here are some of the top shopping destinations to explore:

  1. Local Artisan Shops: Take a stroll down the narrow streets and discover local artisans showcasing their crafts. From handmade ceramics to intricate lacework, you’ll find exquisite pieces that reflect the rich cultural heritage of the region.
  2. Antique Stores: Gallipoli’s old town is a treasure trove for antique enthusiasts. Browse through the antique stores to find vintage furniture, collectibles, and unique artifacts that tell stories of the town’s history.
  3. Fashion Boutiques: If you’re looking to update your wardrobe with a touch of Italian style, head to the fashion boutiques dotted throughout the old town. You’ll find a mix of local designers and renowned brands, offering a diverse selection of clothing and accessories.
  4. Food Markets: Immerse yourself in the local gastronomy by visiting the vibrant food markets in the old town. Here, you can find fresh produce, regional delicacies, and traditional ingredients to create your own Italian feast.

Don’t forget to haggle: When shopping in the old town, it’s common practice to negotiate prices, especially in smaller boutiques and markets. So, channel your inner negotiator and be ready to strike a deal.

Sample the Local Cuisine

When visiting Gallipoli’s old town, sampling the local cuisine is a must-do experience. The town boasts a variety of traditional dishes that showcase the region’s culinary heritage. Here are some must-try dishes:

  1. Pasticciotto: This delicious pastry is a local specialty, consisting of a sweet, flaky crust filled with a rich cream made from eggs and sugar. Pasticciotto is often enjoyed for breakfast or as a dessert.
  2. Frisella: Frisella is a type of hard bread, similar to biscotti, that is typically soaked in water, topped with fresh tomatoes, olive oil, and oregano, and then enjoyed as a refreshing snack.
  3. Tiella di Riso: Tiella di Riso is a savory dish made with layers of rice, potatoes, mussels, tomatoes, onions, and parsley, all baked together in a pot. It’s a hearty and flavorful dish that showcases the region’s seafood.
  4. Fave e Cicorie: Fave e Cicorie is a simple yet delicious dish made with fava beans and chicory. The fava beans are cooked until tender and served with sautéed chicory, garlic, and olive oil. It’s a popular dish during the spring months.
  5. Orecchiette con Cime di Rapa: Orecchiette, which means “little ears” in Italian, is a type of pasta that originated in Puglia. When paired with cime di rapa, a bitter green similar to broccoli rabe, it creates a delicious and satisfying meal.

As you explore the charming streets of Gallipoli’s old town, be sure to stop by the local trattorias and osterias to savor these mouthwatering dishes. The combination of fresh ingredients, traditional cooking methods, and Mediterranean flavors make the local cuisine a true delight for food enthusiasts.

Accommodation in Gallipoli

When visiting Gallipoli’s old town, choosing the right accommodation can enhance your overall experience. Whether you prefer a hotel, a bed & breakfast, or an apartment, there are plenty of options available in this charming historical town.

Choosing a Hotel or B&B

When visiting Gallipoli’s old town, it’s important to choose the right accommodation that aligns with the historical and charming atmosphere of the area. Here are some factors to consider when selecting a hotel or B&B:

  1. Location: Look for hotels or B&Bs that are situated within or near the old town. This will allow you to easily access the historical landmarks and explore the charming streets without having to travel far.
  2. Authenticity: Consider staying in establishments that reflect the traditional architecture and style of the old town. Many hotels and B&Bs in Gallipoli offer rooms adorned with local artwork and antique furniture, giving you the opportunity to immerse yourself in the historical ambiance.
  3. Amenities: Check what amenities are available to ensure a comfortable stay. Some hotels offer rooftop terraces with panoramic views of the old town and the sea, while others provide courtyards or gardens where you can relax and unwind.
  4. Reviews and Ratings: Take the time to read reviews and ratings from previous guests. This will give you insights into the quality of service, cleanliness, and overall experience provided by the accommodation options in Gallipoli’s old town.
  5. Breakfast: Consider whether breakfast is included in the room rate. Many B&Bs in the area offer delicious homemade breakfasts with local specialties, allowing you to start your day with a taste of Gallipoli’s culinary delights.

With the right accommodation, you can wake up surrounded by the historical charm and beauty of Gallipoli.

Booking an Apartment

Finding the perfect accommodation in Gallipoli’s old town is a breeze, thanks to the wide range of apartments available for rent. Whether you’re traveling solo, as a couple, or with a group, there’s an option to suit every need and budget.

1 Research and Compare

  • Start your apartment search by conducting thorough research and comparing different options. Look for apartments that are centrally located, offering easy access to the historical landmarks and charming streets of Gallipoli’s old town. Pay attention to the amenities offered, such as fully equipped kitchens, laundry facilities, and Wi-Fi access, to ensure a comfortable stay.

2 Read Reviews

  • Before finalizing your booking, make sure to read reviews from previous guests. This will give you valuable insights into the quality of the apartment, the responsiveness of the host, and any potential issues to be aware of. Booking platforms often have user-generated reviews that can help you make an informed decision.

3 Contact the Host

  • If you have any specific questions or requirements, don’t hesitate to reach out to the apartment host. They can provide additional information about the property, suggest nearby attractions or recommend local restaurants. Establishing good communication with the host before your arrival can enhance your overall experience.

4 Book in Advance

  • To secure the apartment of your choice, it’s advisable to book in advance, especially during peak travel seasons. Popular apartments tend to get booked quickly, so reserving your accommodation ahead of time ensures availability and saves you from last-minute stress.


Gallipoli is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and a popular tourist destination. It’s a great place to explore the history of the First World War and to learn about the Turkish people and their culture. The old town is full of charming streets and historical landmarks. You’ll find pubs, restaurants and shops, as well as art galleries and museums. If you’re visiting Gallipoli, make sure to take the time to explore its fascinating past.

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