1911 Encyclopædia Britannica/Brindisi
BRINDISI (anc. Brundisium, q.v.), a seaport town and archiepiscopal see of Apulia, Italy, in the province of Lecce, 24 m. N.W. by rail from the town of Lecce, and 346 m. from Ancona. Pop.(1861) 8000; (1871) 13,755; (1901) 25,317. The chief importance of Brindisi is due to its position as a starting-point for the East. The inner harbour, admirably sheltered and 27 to 30 ft. in depth, allows ocean steamers to lie at the quays. Brindisi has, however, been abandoned by the large steamers of the Peninsular & Oriental Steam Navigation Company, which had called there since 1870, but since 1898 call at Marseilles instead; small express boats, carrying the mails, still leave every week, connecting with the larger steamers at Port Said; but the number of passengers leaving the port, which for the years 1893-1897 averaged 14,728, was only 7608 in 1905, and only 943 of these were carried by the P. & O. boats. The harbour railway station was not completed until 1905 (Consular Report, No. 3672, 1906, pp. 13 sqq.). The port was cleared in 1905 by 1492 vessels of 1,486,269 tons. The imports represented a value of £629,892 and the exports a value of £663,201—an increase of £84,077 and £57,807 respectively on the figures of the previous year, while in 1899 the amounts, which were below the average, were only £298,400 and £253,000. The main imports are coal, flour, sulphur, timber and metals; and the main exports, wine and spirits, oil and dried fruits.
Frederick II. erected a castle, with huge round towers, to guard the inner harbour; it is now a convict prison. The cathedral, ruined by earthquakes, was restored in 1743-1749, but has some remains of its mosaic pavement (1178). The baptismal church of S. Giovanni al Sepolcro (11th century) is now a museum. The town was captured in 836 by the Saracens, and destroyed by them; but was rebuilt in the 11th century by Lupus the protospatharius, Byzantine governor. In 1071 it fell into the hands of the Normans, and frequently appears in the history of the Crusades. Early in the 14th century the inner port was blocked by Giovanni Orsini, prince of Taranto; the town was devastated by pestilence in 1348, and was plundered in 1352 and 1383; but even greater damage was done by the earthquake of 1456.