Bari was a small fishing village long ago. People lived in this place in the times of Greeks. Later the Romans came in this place and called the village Barium. In 181 BC this fishing harbor was mentioned in written sources.
During the Roman rule the town began to develop rapidly because an important strategic road Via Troiana was constructed through Bari which connected a coastal road and Via Appia. This new road made the way from Roma to Brindisi shorter.
Then Saracen came to this land, but their rule had not lasted for long time. Many rules possessed Bari in different periods. During these centuries Bari had bad reputation as a slave market.
In the 11th century the Norman Robert Guiscard arrived to this place. He decided to capture Southern Italy. The war with the Byzantine who didn't want to lose the control over the place had lasted for several years. Bari had to suffer from a 3-year siege. It was a difficult time for the city. Finally Robert Guiscard defeated. He conquered the city and became the King of Southern Italy. Bari had been under the rule of the Normans for long years. It was another Norman King Roger the 2nd who constructed a massive fortress. This impressive castle over the sea surrounded by a deep moat protected Bari from enemy's attacks.
Bari is known as a city of San Nicola. Citizens of Bari organized a special expedition to Myra. The purpose of it was to bring the remains of the saint from Myra to Bari. They succeeded in this task and this holy relic is kept in Bari since that times. It was decided that a marvelous cathedral had to be founded in Bari to house Saint Nicola's remains.
Bari is also known as a city of crusaders. It is connected with the name of Peter the Hermit, a priest from Amiens. He was the preacher who helped to organize the first crusade.
In the beginning of the 12th century it was a war in South Italy headed by the King of Sicily William the Bad. He captured Bari and ruined the town. But later another ruler Emperor Frederick the 2nd rebuilt Bari and reconstructed the fortress Castell Svevo.
During the middle ages many rulers succeeded each other in Bari and each of them left his mark on the city's history. Different dukes came to Bari and used the city as their residents. Among them was Isabella Di Aragon who had done much for the city's development. It was the time of Renaissance and Isabella turned Castello Swevo in Bari into the center of culture and art. She invited the best artists, sculptures and musicians to work in this castle.
Finally Bari became the part of the Naples Kingdom and had remained under the rule of Naples for several centuries until the unification of Italian duchies in 1860. In the 19th century Napoleon's general Joachim Murat decided to build a new modern district in Bari. He designed a plan according to which a new section was constructed.