The Park, whose establishment was scheduled by law 9th December 1998 no. 426, was established de facto with D.P.R. 10th March 2004 (G. U. N. 152 of 1st July 2004). It covers a total area of 68,077 hectares and its territory involves Regione Puglia, the Province of Bari and those of Barletta, Andria, and Trani, the Mountain Communities of Murgia Nord Occidentale and Murgia Sud Orientale, and 13 Municipalities.
A visit to Alta Murgia Park should also include a visit to the thirteen towns surrounding it. Among the most interesting features characterizing the area, the archaeological sites in Botromagno, Gravina (34 hectares), the stone and tufa architectures of the historical town centers, the Romanesque-style cathedrals (Altamura, Bitonto, Ruvo), and the museums (Museo Ettore Pomarici Santomasi in Gravina, Museo Jatta in Ruvo, the State Archeological Museum in Altamura).
In 1993, an extraordinary discovery was made at Pulo di Altamura, where
the millenary sepulcher of one of the first ancestors of man was found,
confirming the presence of human settlements in the area already during
prehistory. It is the entire and perfectly preserved skeleton of a
hominid (unique case in the world), belonging to an archaic species of
Homo, who lived between the 200 thousand and the 400 thousand years ago.
Another great discovery regarded in 1999 a field of dinosaurs' tracks in an abandoned quarry between Altamura and Santeramo. Scattered throughout an area of about 12,000 square meters, over 30,000 dinosaurs' tracks have been found, many of which incredibly intact and clear. It is the richest paleontological field in the world.
The opposite sides of the plateau, along the ancient Roman main ways of communication represented by Via Appia and Via Traiana, are dominated by the Norman castles of Gravina, Garagnone, and Castel del Monte, built according to the will of Frederick II, Duke of Swabia. The charm of this building cannot be fully understood if we do not consider its setting: golden as the calcareous hills from where the huge stone blocks forming it were extracted, Castel del Monte dominates the top of Murge as a monument to beauty.
The main human activities carried out in the area, like stock rearing
and agriculture, have given birth to extremely rich and complex forms
of space organization: dry-stone walls networks, hypogean villages and
necropolises, rock churches and rural chapels, reservoirs and snow
houses, trulli, but above all several agricultural masserie and sheep
masserie, the so-called "jazzi", situated along the ancient
Masserie of Alta Murgia summarize all the typologies of masserie you can find in Apulia both for their different functions and different architectural structures.
With the first stage of the hermit and anchorite presence, the extraordinary and mysterious rock civilization characterizing Apulia was born: along the marshy grounds, the gorges, and the ditches. Many rock churches and chapels were built between the 9th and 14th centuries AD, while masserie and aratie regie were built during the Norman-Swabian-Angevin period.
Since the 15th century, in order to protect the animals from the cold winter nights, the architectural structures for sheep breeding called "jazzi" were built: they are situated in places with a southern exposure and sheltered from the north wind and are still visible in the rocky expanses of Murge.
The visit to the National Park "Alta Murgia" allows you to admire the extraordinary historical, artistic, archaeological and environmental testimonials present throughout the territory.
In the thirteen municipalities that are part of the National Park "Alta Murgia", there are many important monuments such as the Castel del Monte (Andria), the Castle Toritto (Toritto), the Norman-Swabian Castle (Sannicandro di Bari), the Norman Castle (Minervino Murge), the Assumption Cathedral (Altamura), the Cathedral of St. Valentine (Bitonto), the Cathedral of Ruvo (Ruvo di Puglia), and Norman Castle (Spinazzola), the Palazzo Ducale (Poggiorsini) only name a few.
In the park and in the 13 municipalities can be visited numerous museums that include both archaeological finds related to the Magna Grecia both archaeological finds related to prehistoric times as the Uomo di Altamura.
The Alta Murgia sefaguards archeological and paleontological testimonies.
In an abandoned pit in Pontrelli, close to Altamura, 30000 dinosaur impressions were found.
Apart from the finding of a skeleton in the Lamalunga cave, the evidence is 150000 / 200000 years old (Paleolithic) and belongs to the Homo Neanderthaliensis species, the Alta Murgia was populated during the Neolitic era (around 3000 B.C.).