Alberobello: a UNESCO World Heritage Site

Alberobello is a small Italian town and municipality in the province of Bari, in the south of the Puglia region. With just over 10,900 inhabitants, this site was listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site (United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization).

What makes Alberobello so special as to be listed as a World Heritage Site? turns out here a very particular and striking construction technique arose. This technique is prehistoric —dating back to the mid-14th century— and is still used in the region today. Get to know all the details of this ancient construction technique!

The famous “trulli” of Alberobello

trullithis is how the characteristic buildings of this Italian region are called —or ‘trullos’ in Spanish—. It is a type of limestone house in which its construction without mortar stands out. Its vaulted ceilings, in the form of a pyramid or dome, are built with stones that were collected from the surrounding fields.

Alberobello is undoubtedly a unique place for presenting homogeneity in its spaces, by the persistence of traditional construction techniques, because even today this technique is still used, and because the trulli are still inhabited. The sum of all this gives us as a result an exceptional architectural landscape.

Reasons for its declaration as World Heritage

Parts of Alberobello were protected thanks to its declaration as World Heritage by UNESCO in 1996. This organization has criteria that determine whether a place should be declared or not. The criteria under which Patrimony was declared to the trulli of Alberobello are:

  • Criterion III: This type of building accounts for the long-term use of dry stone construction, an ancient technique in the Mediterranean region.
  • Criterion IV: the trulli of Alberobello constitute a historic urban landscape thanks to the architectural ensemble that is still standing and that makes up the city.
  • Criterion V: Due to these constructions, Alberobello is an outstanding example of a human settlement that largely retains its original form to the present day.

Characteristics of these constructions

Just by looking at them, we can realize that there is much to know about the trullisuch as their origin, why it was decided to build them and other important details that we explain below.

Construction and appearance

As we mentioned, the trulli They are traditional dry stone dwellings or huts with a cantilevered roof. We can see this style throughout the Itria Valley in Puglia; however, the highest concentration is found in Alberobello, where they are also in excellent condition.

They were built from heavily worked and excavated limestone, in the process of creating cisterns under the floor and from rocks collected in nearby areas. The walls were built directly on the limestone base using a dry stone wall technique. This means that no mortar or cement was used.

The walls, as well as the ceilings, are “double skinned”. The roof structure was placed directly on the walls by means of corner arches, which made it possible to go from the rectangular wall structure to the circular parts of the roofs.

A door and small windows interrupt the walls, and a chimney and alcoves are inserted, which together with the rectangular shape of the construction and the cone or dome-shaped ceilings, give this type of house its distinctive characteristics.

Why were they created? trulli?

They were usually built trulli such as temporary field shelters and warehouses, or as permanent housing for small landowners or farm workers. The city has more than 1500 trulli distributed between the neighborhoods of Monti and Aia Piccola, almost all in perfect condition.

As the story goes, they were built to evade taxes. That’s how it is! With the first constructions in the 14th century, they were used strategically. It is said that the King of Naples had decreed that for each new town that was built, a tribute should be paid.

The Count of Acquaviva, in common agreement with the settlers. he urged that no mortar be used to join the housing blocks. Thus, it seemed that they were provisional, easy to destroy and, therefore, exempt from paying taxes. Although they seem precarious, reality shows that ingenious techniques were used and that they have extraordinary stability.

Passed down from generation to generation

Although the trulli They seem simple, you will imagine that making them required knowing the technique perfectly. Its construction was in charge of the “master trulleros”, but they had to teach it to others so that it would not disappear. That is why it was passed down from generation to generation for centuries.

symbols on the trulli by Alberobello

Generally, on the roofs of the trulli symbols are often seen religious and mythological marked with white ash, while the domes feature decorative pinnacles to ward off bad luck, negative influences or evil spirits.

To know Alberobello is to visit the past

Definitively, to know Alberobello is to know another stage of history. Not forgetting the present the trulli they will transport you to an Italy of the past.

If you travel to the fantastic region of Puglia, don’t miss out on discovering the present, steeped in history. Undoubtedly the incredibles trulli, which are a world heritage, will amaze you.

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