Nardò (population 30.000), the third-largest city in the province of Lecce, was founded by the Messapians, and it became a Roman municipium under the name of Neritum. It retained an Oriental stamp throughout the Middle Ages. It was taken by the Turks in 1480 and it participated in the anti-Spanish revolt that shook Lecce and sent repercussions throughout the peninsula, and it adhered enthusiastically to the cause of the Risorgimento.
The Piazza Antonio Salandra, is a theatrical piece of town planning that revolves around the exuberant Guglia dell'Immacolata (1769). The Palazzo della Prefettura, has been rebuilt in 1772, and it has an open arcade on the ground floor and a vaulted loggia on the floor above, both with trefoil arches; above the shop fronts along the other sides of the piazza are ironwork balconies and elegant loggie, some of which have been wholly or partially walled up. The adjacent piazza takes its name from the church of San Domenico, built in the late 16C but restored, in Baroque form, after 1743: the façade hosts a strange colony of grotesque herms and caryatids.
The town hall, (the castle of the dukes of Conversano) was begun by Giovanni Antonio Acquaviva d'Aragona, who built the central block and the mandorla-like corner bastions in the early 16C. The other parts are clearly later additions. Adjoining the medieval town walls is a largo containing the curious octagonal aedicule (1603) called the Osanna, composed of eight small columns joined by polyfoil arches, surmounted by a segmented stone cupola with eight pinnacles and a sculptured finial.
The cathedral, founded by Benedictines in 1090, was partially rebuilt after an earthquake of 1230, enlarged in the following century, and modified several times after that, particularly in 1721 by Ferdinando Sanfelice, when additions were made to the façade and interior. The nave and aisles are separated by compound piers with engaged columns. The rounded arches on the south side are those of the original building; the pointed arches on the north are part of the 13C reconstruction, above the altars are paintings by local artists and a 13C Catalan crucifix which, according to legend, began to bleed when the Saracens attempted to carry it off. On the walls and piers are frescoes dating from the 13C to the 15C.
In the bishop's place you can see a Madonna with Saints Peter and Paul by Francesco Solimena.