The church of Santa Marina

The small building, outside the Messapian walls, made out of large reused blocks, was probably built at the beginning of the 9th century.

Reconstruction of the church of Santa Marina, Period IClick here to enlarge

It would have had a single nave, with porches to its sides, whose double arches were blocked in during the 10th century, when the internal walls of the church were painted with frescoes.

On the inner side of the fašade is an Ascension, with a huge figure of an enthroned Christ. The Virgin Mary, between the two groups of Apostles, is in axis with the figure of the Son, and accompanied by a verse in Greek, from the Acts of the Apostles. On the side walls are figures of saints, especially bishops. The vestibule has at least two layers of medieval frescoes, one from the 10th century, another from the 11th, including what is perhaps part of an hagiographic cycle and some fragmentary images of saints, including St. John the Baptist and St. George.

The second layer of pictorial decoration also appears to be important. On the side walls the figures of saints in part substitute those of the previous phase.

Reconstruction of the church of Santa Marina, Period IIClick here to enlarge

The apsidal conch has been almost completely obliterated by a modern painting: part of the bottom of the figure of a deacon saint can be made out

It is likely that a Virgin with baby Jesus among the Archangels was painted in the conch-. Numerous figures of Byzantine bishop saints are also visible. On the arches is the oldest cycle of the Life and Miracles of Saint Nicholas of Myra in the Byzantine world, dating to around forty years before the translation of his body from Myra (Turkey) to Bari in 1087. The building was, in fact, dedicated to Saint Nicholas.