The history of the Harbour of Brindisi is closely tied to that of the city, as the columns held to be the end markers of the Via Appia attest. The columns form a conceptual gateway and homage to the sea, and are decorated with divinities and tritons that describe the strong link between city and harbour. The harbour was certainly in use in the Messapian age, reaching its maximum splendour in Roman times when its natural inclination towards the East made it one of the most important ports of the empire.
Following the fall of the Eastern Roman Empire in the 6th century, the harbour lost its importance only to reacquire it in the 12th century, thanks to urban planning from the previous century.
Many contingents of Crusaders left for the Holy Land from Brindisi, from the First Crusade (1096) onwards.
With the construction of the Adriatic Railroad, the harbour became a terminal for freight and passengers arriving from international routes. The Suez Canal opened in 1869, the first official voyage of the Indian Mail took place on 25 October 1870 and the harbour regained its importance.