Founded by Spartan exiles in 706 BC, Taranto represents the only Spartan colony of Magna Graecia. The city roots lie between its myth, history and immense beauty.

According to  the legend, Falanto, the leader of the Spartan  exiles, discovered the city of Taranto following the oracle he was told in Delphi before leaving. Traces of his settlements were discovered in Saturo, probably the entry route upon his arrival along the Ionian coasts. 

The Greek city bears the name of Τάρας after the son of the Greek sea god, Poseidon, and the local nymph Satyrion. The symbol of the Greek city (as well as of the modern city) is thus Taras riding a dolphin. 

Taranto was known in ancient Greek world for being home to great “Athlete of Taranto”, a man in his 30s who won prestigious prizes in the “Panathenaic Games” which took place in Athens. His glory was so great that his tomb was enriched with engravings and vases celebrating his victories. Items from his burial site are displayed in the Archaeological Museum. 

The acropolis of the colossal city of Magna Graecia hosted numerous monuments and masterpieces, along with theatres, temples and schools which are now part of the rich and great heritage left by the Greeks over the centuries.  

The massive Doric columns are the remains of a temple facing the sea, dedicated either to a God or a Goddess – it is still uncertain whether it was Poseidon or Aphrodite. As in many cities in the Magna Graecia, the great Goddess Persephone was worshipped also in Taranto. A great statue depicting the Goddess can be admired in the Archaeological Museum. 

Tourist attractions, venues and activities

Top five must-see destinations:

  • Grottaglie – ceramic art center
  • Massafra – rock settlements with astonishing art in the ravine
  • Taranto – capital of the ancient Magna Graecia
  • Lido Gandoli beaches – sandy beaches with crystal clear water
  • Matera –  European Capital of Culture 2019

Sample Shore excursions

Passengers can take a dolphin watching tour from Taranto; in the area sorrounding Taranto there are Matera and its "Sassi", ancient cave houses made famous by Mel Gibson's film "The Passion"; cruisers can visit Grottaglie with its pottery workshops; Massafra and its beautiful natural caves; sunbathe on the beaches of Lido Gandoli and Campomarino; stroll around Martina Franca and the valley of Itria and its beautiful trulli houses; discover the ancient Masseria farmhouses and the production of cheese and wine; visit the archaeological site of Manduria.


Tourist Info
Local Population: 200.000
Time (GMT+/-): +1
First language:
Second language:  
Banking hours (morning): 9-12
Banking hours (afternoon): 16-19
Credit cards: All
Accepts Travellers Cheques: Yes
Shopping hours (morning): 9-13
Shopping hours (afternoon): 17-20
Public holidays: 6th January, Easter Monday, 25th April, 10th May, 2nd June, 15th August, 1st November, 25th and 26th December
Shops are open on Saturdays: Yes
Shops are open on Sundays: Once a month

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