Something New Coming to Bari

An inflatable 15-meter San Nicola in Torre a Mare, sponsored by the "Statue of San Nicola" association together with a local family
Photo: BariToday

An ambitious initiative to bring a colossal statue of St. Nicholas to Bari was announced in July, 2020. It is proposed to be on the scale of Christ the Redeemer in Rio de Janeiro and the Statue of Liberty in New York.

The association, A Statue of San Nicola, believe the project will bring tourists and pilgrims from all over the world, capitalizing on Bari's long association with Saint Nicholas. As Professor Enzo Varricchio, one of the project founders, says, "This work has enormous potential, considering that St. Nicholas is venerated by 1 billion faithful in 100 countries around the world."

The initiative's three parts

  1. Constructing a colossal statue of St. Nicholas of Myra and Bari to welcome pilgrims and faithful to Bari. The statue design will be selected through a competition of internationally renowned artists. The statue will be 70 meters high and have two elevators and a safety stairway. It will be visible from about 20 kilometers away. It will be located on the waterfront, determined in compliance with environmental and landscape standards. Possibilities:
    • Colmata Marisabella in the Bari port
    • Fiera del Levante, convention center on the waterfront
    • Piazza Armando Diaz, on the seafront Nazrio Sauro
  2. Applying for UNESCO recognition of the material heritage of the Basilica di San Nicola in Bari and for UNESCO intangible heritage for the Feast of the Translation of the Sacred Relics of San Nicola from Myra to Bari in 1087.
  3. Creating a theme park "Hagios Nikolaos - San Nicola - Santa Claus" as a sign of 1) Bari's ecumenical and Mediterranean and 2) the centuries of St. Nicholas' patronage for children from all over the world.

All of this, especially the theme park, will be significant tourist attractions, particularly during Advent and Christmas; thus giving the region an economic boost. Varricchio continued, "Our intent is to lay the first stone within a few months, a great collective enterprise that will remain in the history of our land."

The project is a collaboration with the Southern Adriatic Port System Authority and others representing the wider Puglia Region. Financing will be through private funds and international crowdfunding, including auctioning plates to be placed on the statue's base. The statue itself will be made entirely of Apulian ecological materials, stone or metal, to promote area businesses.

The proposal has engendered controversy with petitions to stop the project. However, the association continues to press forward.

Proposed design: San Nicola blessing the city
A mock-up for the statue
Another mock-up for the statue
And, another mock-up
Proposal for the historical studies center, experimental theater, play library, and more
Photo: Una Statua per San Nicola

Anthem to San Nicola in English for Una Statua per San Nicola


  • "Bari rende omaggio a San Nicola: parco tematico e una gigantesca statua del Santo Patrono," Borderline 24, July 23, 2020
  • "Una statua colossale di San Nicola, Bari come Rio de Janeiro e New York: presentato il progetto," BariToday, July 24, 2020
  • "Statua di San Nicola/Santa Claus come volano economico: domani a Bari la conferenza di servizi," Scripta Moment, July 23, 2020
  • "Una statua per San Nicola, venerdì a Bari si presenta il progetto,", July 23, 2020
  • "Bari, San Nicola patrimonio Unesco: c'è un'idea," La Gazzetta del Mezzogiorno, July 25, 2020
  • "Bari, ‘Una statua per San Nicola’: presentato il progetto turistico-religioso dedicato al Santo Patrono," TeleBari, July 24, 2020
  • "Una statua per San Nicola: dalla comunità per la comunità," Ora Legale, undated
  • "Una statua monumentale di san Nicola nel porto di Bari," la Repubblica, March 20, 2021
  • Marconi, una statua di 70 metri di San Nicola come la statua della Libertà. Parte il progetto, by Gennaro Totorizzo, la Repubblica, October 29, 2020

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