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General notions related to the Alta Murgia national park
The Alta Murgia national park was established by presidential decree on 10 March 2004 and is one of the largest on the national territory, covering an area of over 68 thousand hectares. The rocky ridges as well as the dolines and the small hills are omnipresent and characterize the morphological aspect of the Alta Murgia. The oak woods alternate with those of conifers giving life to a unique landscape of its kind. In some areas it is still possible to see the ruins of ancient stone farms. Some are protected by walls that were intended to protect private property from marauders while others present what remains of stables and fences for flocks of sheep.
The main attractions of the park
The Alta Murgia national park is included in the territories of the province of Bari and those of the province of Barletta-Andria-Trani. Among the attractions most appreciated by visitors is the Castel del Monte. It is one of the most famous buildings in the whole southern part of Italy and since 1996 it has been included in the UNESCO World Heritage List. It was commissioned by Emperor Frederick II at the end of the thirteenth century AD and is located in the municipality of Andria. Instead, among the naturalistic beauties of primary importance, it is worth mentioning the Mercadante forest located in the area belonging to Cassano delle Murge. It covers an area of 1800 hectares and is not only the largest karst doline in the area, but there have been important discoveries related to the dinosaurs.
The flora of the Alta Murgia
The flora of the Alta Murgia national park changes from area to area. The habitat varies continuously and is a succession of rocks, lush forests and real grasslands. There are trees that characterize the Mediterranean maquis such as the Scots pine or the common cypress but also large oak woods. The woods are populated by holm oaks, Turkey oaks and downy oaks, but fragni and farnetti can also be found. Also the shrubs that live in the undergrowth are numerous and range from butcher's broom to honeysuckle passing through the myrtle from which excellent liquors are obtained. However, during a walk through the park paths it is not unusual to come across almond trees in bloom in spring or medlar trees laden with succulent fruits towards the end of June.
Parco Alta Murgia: The fauna present on site
In this park there are many medium and small animals. Thanks to the undergrowth rich in fruits and the vast expanses of grass, over the years numerous mammals have settled in the area such as the fallow deer, the squirrels, the hares and a good quantity of rodents such as the quercino and the dormouse. There are also numerous foxes and wild boars that have multiplied enormously in recent years, partially altering the balance of the delicate ecosystem. The wolves that once had almost disappeared have begun to repopulate the park attracted by the quantity of small animals present. The wild dove rejoices with its voice the long walks of the visitors through the paths while of more difficult sighting are the oculus and the rare little hen.