The former cathedral is the most prominent example of the gotico fiorito in the Puglia region, because of its sculptural decoration which covers every single architectonic detail.
The temple was built between 1469 and 1500, and its construction was determined by the earthquake of 1456, which together with the one of 1743 devastated a great part of the medieval heritage of the Puglia region.
The works were supervised by Giovanni Lombardo, who took his inspiration from the original shapes of the European Gothic of the 13th century, which arrived here in the Puglia region thanks to the Venetian Republic, which as well as creating a strong commercial bond with the territory also acted as the mediator of a new artistic language.
The façade is an enchanting contaminatio of Romanic, Gothic and Byzantine elements. It is dominated by the central rose, which is superbly chiselled. The work is considered among the greatest ones in Europe, but also one of the most spellbinding ones; here art and symbolism have crossed one another, creating one of the most surprising pages of the medieval Christian theology and cosmology.
The prospect of the old temple is divided into three parts by agile pilasters, which terminate on top with two elegant, small aedicule which serve the purpose of acroteria, whereas down below three embrasure portals with lunettes mark the entrances in the three aisles. The concavo-convex lines of the cornice are decorated with a long sequence of trefoil, hanging archelets, varied zoomorphic and anthropomorphous motifs, and also gargoyles with leonine heads.
The interior has a Latin cross plan, formed bythree aisles. As from the 18th century, the Gothic supporting structures have been given a Baroque imprint by the distressed stucco and the wooden panelling. Valuable 18th century pictorial works and wooden altars of exquisite workmanship are preserved inside the sacred building.
In actual fact it is anachronistic to call it a cathedral, and it would be more appropriate to define it as a former cathedral; this is because since 1818 the diocese of Ostuni has been eliminated and joined with the one of Brindisi.
The cathedral is dedicated to the Assunta, whose festivity is celebrated on 15th August.
The church was declared a National Monument in 1902.
The former cathedral is always open. It is easily accessible.
AA.VV. (2000), Guida di Ostuni, Lecce, Lecce, Congedo Editore, 1. ed.
Tanzarella, A. (1989), Ostuni ieri, Fasano (Br), Schena Editore.
Sozzi, A. (2008), Ostuni nella storia, Fasano (Br), Schena Editore.