The Colossus of Barletta – also known as “the Giant” – is considered as the true symbol of the city of Barletta. It is a gigantic bronze statue, 4.50 m high, dating back to the 5th century. Positioned on a stone pedestal, in front of the left side of the Basilica of the Holy Sepulchre of Barletta, the Byzantine styled statue, probably represents Emperor Theodosius II and was perhaps erected by Valentinian III in Ravenna in 439. Until a few decades ago, it was thought that the Colossus of Barletta represented Emperor Heraclius I. Recent studies, however, highlighted the inaccuracy of such an identification and postulated much more plausibly that it was likely to be the bronze effigy of Theodosius II, Eastern Roman Emperor,  portrayed when he was 38, at the height of his imperial splendour. According to the folk-historical tradition, the statue was found in 1204 on a rock in the port of Barletta, which probably ended there after the shipwreck of a Venetian ship returning from a crusade. The rock on which it was found was called by people “Mamma Arè“, that is Mamma Eraclio (Mother Heraclius) as if the Colossus was born out of that stone in the sea. In reality, the statue, probably made in Ravenna, was transported to Puglia by order of Frederick II, Emperor of Swabia, who wanted to decorate the imperial cities. The Colossus of Barletta is currently the only large bronze statue in the world to be exhibited outdoor rather than being housed in a museum.

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