Taras / Tarentum

Taranto is today a coastal city in Apulia, southern Italy.. Its coordinates are 40°28′ N 17°14′ E. . Its altitude is 15 metres above sea level, with a surface area of 217 km². Taranto history dates back to the 8th century BC when it was founded as a Greek colony. The ancient city was situated on a peninsula, protected by a helm; the modern city has been built over the ancient Greek necropolis. The islets S. Pietro and S. Paolo (S. Peter and S. Paul) protect the bay (called Mar Grande, Big sea) where the commercial port is located. Another bay, called Mar Piccolo (Small sea), is formed by the old city, and there fishing is flourishing; Mar Piccolo is a military port with a strategic importance; at the end of the XIX century, a channel was excavated to allow the military ships to enter Mar Piccolo harbour, and the ancient Greek city become an island. In addition, the islets and the coast are strongly fortified. Because of the presence of these two bays, Taranto is also called “the city of the two seas”.

The Greek colonists called the city Taras, from the name of the mythical eponymous hero Taras, while the Romans, who connected the city to Rome with an extension of the Appian way, called it Tarentum.

Foundation and splendour

Emblem of the city of Taranto, with Taras riding a dolphin

Phalantus and Aihra , Silvana Galeone; Centro Culturale Filonide, Taranto (


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