Near the port of Brindisi, one of the largest in Southern Italy, a set of monumental stairs climb from the waterfront to a small square with a column and the remains of another.
These are the Roman Columns of Brindisi, the origins and purpose of which are still unknown. Historically, it’s believed the columns marked the end of the Via Appia, a massive Roman road that connected the capital to the port of Brindisi, or the Via Traiana, a later alternative to the Via Appia.
Others have suggested that they were used as a point of reference for the sailors entering the port. The construction of the columns has been also attributed to Sulla or other Roman generals, stories even go back to the legendary foundation of the city by
Most likely, the pillars and capitals were built sometime around the 2nd or early 3rd-century CE, but the presence of different styles and compositions may suggest a later date.
By the 14th-century, the two columns were a symbol of Brindisi, and to this day, they appear on the city’s coat of arms. One of the two columns collapsed in 1528 after an earthquake. The ruins of the fallen pillar remained on the site for over a century and were moved only in 1659. That year, the pieces were gifted to the nearby city of Lecce to build a monument dedicated to Saint Orontius, who was reputed to have saved Lecce from the plague.