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The Church of Santa Maria dei Martiri

By 20 June 2018 No Comments
La Cattedrale di Otranto

The Church of Santa Maria dei Martiri di Otranto rises in a suburban area on the coast road that leads to Santa Cesarea Terme; it was erected on a hill that is called Colle della Minerva because probably in the time of the pagans there was a temple dedicated to the Goddess Minerva. The building was rebuilt in 1614 to replace a pre-existent wanted by Alfonso of Aragon, in memory of the massacre that took place here. On August 14th, 1480, three days after the occupation of the city, Gedik Ahmet Pasha, commander of the Turkish fleet, ordered that the male inhabitants of the age of fifteen should be brought to the hill. To the prisoners Ahmet proposed to deny the Christian faith and get life in return. Nineteenth men opposed each other by being beheaded, one by one, on a large boulder. Tradition has it that the first to be executed, Antonio Primaldo, miraculously remained standing, headless, until the end of the macabre execution.