The “Specchie” in Puglia

A living testimony of prehistory in Puglia are the “Specchie” constructions similar to towers and consist of artifacts of very ancient origins made dry from piles of limestone. It is not possible to give these constructions a precise historical location: according to some scholars, in fact, their appearance dates back to the Neolithic, while, for others, they date back to the times of the Messapians.

Mori Martano Specchia
Mori Martano Specchia ©

Their function

Their real function is very uncertain. According to some paleontologists the Specchie represent the ruins of ancient and gigantic houses, similar to the Sardinian nuraghi and the very famous trulli, for others they are constructions erected for defensive purposes by primitive man, finally, for still others they have a tomb function. But the most concrete hypothesis is that they served as a lookout post to control the coast.

The types of Specchie in Puglia

The mirrors are divided based on size and functions into:

  • Large Specchie: structures that rise following a conical shape with a height of approximately 10-15 metres.
  • Small Specchie: piles of stone that seem to have had funerary functions. Generally these are simple piles of stones created spontaneously to form small bumps of limestone stones scattered across the countryside.

Where are Specchie found in Puglia

The Itria Valley, some municipalities of Salento and the Gargano have various Specchie scattered throughout their territories. In fact, there are 18 around Ceglie Messapica, 10 near Villa Castelli, others scattered between Cisternino, Fasano and Francavilla Fontana. The most famous of the Tarantina mirrors is that of the hamlet of the municipality of Martina Franca.

Northern Salento and the Oria area also have some specimens of Specchie, others are scattered between the areas of Martano, Ugento, Cavallino and Presicce. There is no shortage of them in the Murgia Barese area. In the territory of Salve, a municipality in Puglia in the province of Lecce, there are 3 mirrors: the Specchia Cantoro, the Specchia Spriculizzi, the Specchia Cucuruzzi, otherwise known as the Fersini, the most impressive and ancient. Rich in charm and mystery, Specchia dei Mori arouses the great interest of scholars and tourists.

Located near Martano-Caprarica, it is also known as the “Segla tu demoniu“. An ancient legend has it that this mirror hides inside a treasure consisting of a hen and twelve golden chicks, impossible to take because they are in the hands of the devil.

Another fascinating legend that hovers around this “enchanted” mirror tells that giant Moors, ancient inhabitants of these places, decided to build this mirror so high to be able to climb up to the sky. The gesture was not appreciated by the gods who therefore caused it to collapse, burying those who had built it with the stones of the collapse.

To date, these ancient buildings are shapeless but at the same time continue to exert a great fascination on the multitudes of tourists who come to visit these places of ritual and mystery.

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Pajare ©
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Barocco leccese ©ilbusca via Canva
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