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Taranto is a city in southern Italy. It is the capital of Taranto province, and is also a port, and is located on the Gulf of Taranto, in Apulia region. It is about midway down the western coast of the peninsula that forms Italy`s heel.

According to the 2001 census, it has population of 201,349.

Taranto is also a very important naval base, and it has well-developed steel and iron foundries, chemical works, some shipyards for building warships, and food-processing factories.

The ancient city was situated on an island, which was joined by two bridges with the mainland, where the modern city was built. The islets S. Pietro and S. Paolo protect the bay (Mar Grande), which is where the commercial port is. Another bay, called Mar Piccolo, is formed by the old city, and there fishing is flourishing. Mar Piccolo is a military port with a strategic importance, and the islets and the cost are very strongly fortified.

The Greekss called the city Taras, and Tarentum by the Romans.

Table of contents
1 History of Taranto
2 External links
3 Books

History of Taranto

Taranto was founded in about 708 BC by Spartan immigrants, and became a sovereign city of Magna Graecia, the Greek colonies in Southern Italy.

In 367 BC Carthage and the Etruscans made a pact to counter Tarentum.

In 343 BC Tarentum appealed for aid against the barbarian to its mother city Sparta in the face of aggression by the Bruttian League.

In 303 BC-302 BC Cleonymus of Sparta made an alliance with Tarentum against the Lucanians

The 280 BC - 275 BC war between Rome and Taranto

In the beginning of the 3rd century BC, the Romans's increasing power started to frighten Taranto, especially for the mastery of the sea. At that time, Taranto had the most powerful naval forces in Italy, and hastened to come to an agreement with Rome which stated that the Lacinio promontory and the Gulf of Taranto should not be passed by Roman ships. However, some ships broke this agreement. This situation would inevitably lead to a conflict between Tarentum and Rome when Rome began interfering in the affairs of the Greek colonies in southern Italy.

Soon, some of the city-states in Magna Graecia, such as Rhegim, Croton and Locri asked Rome for military help because of the wars which they were leading with their neighbours. Thurii, located on the Gulf of Taranto, asked Rome for help in 282 BC after having been attacked by Lucania. Rome sent a fleet carrying troops to garrison Thurii. Taranto, however, thought that this was a hostile act, and responded by sinking the fleet and expelling the roman troops from Thurii.

The war lasted five years (280 BC - 275 BC).

The Romans conquered the city in 272 BC, but their rule wasn't well established until 209 BC.

Later history

In the wake of the Gothic wars, Taranto became part of Byzantium in 540. In 661 it was captured by the Lombards, and later by the Saracens. In 1063 the Norman adventurer, Robert Guiscard, conquered Taranto, and later it became part of the Kingdom of Naples. In November 1940, during the World War II, the Italian ships which were at anchor, were greatly damaged by the British naval forces (see Battle of Taranto.) British forces landed near the port in 1943 as part of the Allied invasion.

External links