The History

A sacred wood contended by everyone City of ancient origins – whose name might derive from the Etruscan luk-eri meaning “sacred wood” – Lucera is mentioned in the writings of Aristotle, Cicero, Caesar and others. Inhabited since the dawn of history, the most memorable period of the ancient city of the Dauni is certainly one in which the city tied to the Swabian house. Before then Lucera had been dominated by the Lombards, then conquered by the French, and then passed onto the Normans who had greatly enriched it.

The Saracens’ experiment In 1224 Frederick II chose IT for a major ethnic experiment required by political-military needs: after conducting a bloody “police operation” to eradicate the Saracens from Sicily, the Emperor deported the survivors to Apulia. The experiment succeeded because the Saracens in Lucera – 5-6,000 in a population of 35/40,000 – ceased to conduct guerrilla warfare actions and resumed to practise their professions, confirming themselves as expert farmers and ranchers. The mosque of bodyguards From being enemies, the Saracens turned into devout admirers of Frederick II, who allowed them to build a mosque and used numerous rulings in their favor. Their new loyalty and reputation as skilled archers and superb horsemen led the emperor to recruit them in his bodyguards, creating special troops. The Caliphate of Cordoba The “Luceria saracenorum” must not have been different from any other Muslim city with mosques, stores, and the typical districts of the casbah. It was during this period of cultural and craftsmanship splendour that the city was compared to the Caliphate of Cordoba.

The city of Santa Maria against the infidels After the death of Frederick the Muslim Lucera remained loyal to the Swabian house, but in 1269 the Anjous besieged it  and conducted a full-fledged ethnic cleansing by killing the “infidel” Muslims: on the ruins of the mosque, in commemoration of the victory, they erected the cathedral and its name was changed to “City of Santa Maria”. The key of Apulia Afterwards, Lucera was again the scene of fierce battles between the French and Spaniards and also fell under the Bourbon domination, keeping until the advent of Napoleon the role of capital of Capitanata and the County of Molise. After the decline in the 19th century, the city experienced a rebirth of industry, livestock and crops between ‘ 800 and ‘ 900. Currently Lucera has the title of Art City and, given its strategic location, it retains the name of “Key of Apulia”. Source: