Brindisi (anc. Brundusium or Brundisium), a seaport of Italy, on the N. E. coast of the province of Terra d'Otranto, lying at the head of a deep and sheltered harbor of the Adriatic between the promontories Permo and Cavallo, in lat. 40° 38' N., Ion. 18° E., 44 m. E. N. E. of Taranto; pop. about 12,000. The town has comparatively few objects of interest, its castle, called Forte di Terra, being the most noteworthy building of the place. This is a strong and well placed fortress, with immense round towers, and is the most conspicuous object in every view of the city. The cathedral, a large Norman structure, has little architectural beauty, and its walls have been much injured by earthquakes. Near it stands an ancient marble column about 50 ft. high, probably once a portion of a temple. The Appian way terminated at Brindisi. There is a public library in the town, and a valuable collection of ancient coins. Improvements are going on in the harbor, which has greatly deteriorated in value since the Roman times, in part on account of dikes erected by Csesar and intended to add to the safety of the port; instead of doing so, they aided the accumulation of sand, and narrowed the entrance, to the great detriment of the inner bay.
It is expected that the measures now in progress will restore the ancient value of the roadstead, secure a great depth of water along the piers, and materially advance the prosperity of the town. The importance and prosperity of Brindisi have of late years been greatly increased by the completion of the railway extending along the eastern coast from northern Italy. Thus connected with all the railways of the continent, it has been selected as the place of embarkation for the mails to the East. Steamers carrying these mails and passengers ply between Brindisi and Alexandria, connecting with the regular mail steamers of the Peninsular and Oriental steamship company. Letters for India and all the East can thus be posted at London some days after the departure of the company's vessels 'from England, and still overtake them at Alexandria. - According to ancient tradition, Brundusium was founded by Cretans in a very remote time. It flourished as an independent city, governed for some time by princes of its own people. In 267 B. C. it was taken by the Romans. It now gained the greatest importance as a commercial city, and its excellent harbor, near the narrow extremity of the Adriatic, caused it to be selected for the principal Roman naval station.
Hannibal made an unsuccessful attempt to capture it. The chief fleets sent out for eastern conquest set sail from its harbor. Sulla landed at Brundusium when he returned in 83 B. C. from the Mithridatic war, and accorded .the city many privileges for its kind reception of him. Caesar unsuccessfully endeavored to blockade Pompey and a part of bis fleet in the bay before the city. Brundusium was again besieged by Antony in 40 B. C, but his reconciliation with Octavius prevented his pushing the siege to its end. Cicero landed here when he returned from exile in 57 B. C.; Horace visited the city in company with Maecenas and Cocceius; Virgil died there in 19 B. C. After the fall of the Roman empire, Brindisi, after being at different times under the dominion of Goths, Saracens, and Greeks, fell into the hands of the Normans, and under their rule formed an important port of embarkation for the crusaders; but it soon lost its commercial prosperity. Louis of Hungary and Louis of Anjou each sacked the town in the 14th century, and in the 15th it was nearly destroyed by an earthquake.
Frederick II. began the castle, and Charles V. completed it; but Brindisi even in his time had lost its prominence as a point either of attack or defence; and until the present century it remained an entirely insignificant seaport.
Castle of Brindisi.