Gela was founded by Rhodian and
Cretan colonists in the late 7th century BC. It prospered and expanded
westwards, and founded the city of Agrigento that would soon pass
it in importance. It reached its greatest splendor under the rule
of tyrants Hippocrates and Gelon, the latter deciding to move into
Syracuse. The city gradually lost its political importance although
it still played a major cultural role. Indeed, Aeschylus, the great
Greek playwright, decided to spend here his last years. Destroyed
and rebuilt many times, Gela was ultimately reconstructed by Frederick
II in 1230. In July 1943, the city witnessed the landings of the
The city’s surrounding plains
are among the most fertile areas in all Sicily. Several pockets
of oil supplying a refinery and a petrolchemical plant are a major
resource for the city’s economy.
Regional Archaeological Museum – It is situated on Corso Vittorio
Emanuele, at the Eastern end of the city. Arranged in the several
rooms of the building is a precious collection displayed in both
chronological and topical order. A kylix bearing the inscription
of the city founder, Antiphemus, opens the collection. An array
of antefixes, some of which bearing the features of the gorgons,
was recovered from the acropolis area (6th and 5th century BC).
Artefacts of the 5th century belonging to a valuable cargo were
recovered from a wrecked ship. On top floor are relics from shrines
and other sites in the city surrounding area. Ancient iron farming
tools were found near the Santuario di Bitalemi, in a votive pit.
The last room, on the ground floor, displays a fine collection of
archaic and attic vases recovered from the necropolises of Navarra
and Nocera and their collections.
Acropolis – Next to the museum is the acropolis.
The plateia (standing for ‘main street’) divides the
city into two sides: to the South is the sacred area, with two temples
(only a standing column of the C temple – built in the 5th
century BC following the victory at Himera – surviving); to
the north were houses and shops.
– Located West of the city, in the area of Capo Soprano. Here,
excavations brought to light well-preserved fragments of Greek fortifications.
The walls, about 300m long, date from a period between the 4th and
the 3rd century BC, when Timoleon restored democracy and undertook
the reconstruction of the city that Chartaginian had razed to the
ground in 405 BC.
wall consists of two sections: the lower, older section is composed
of regular and well-made sandstone blocks. The southern section
of the wall continues to the sea. Further along is a circular kiln
of the Medieval age. To the North are remains of buildings, houses
thermal complex – It is located not very far from
the fortifications, near the almshouse. It dates from the Hellenistic
age and is divided into two rooms. The first is divided into two
areas: one contains small tubs arranged in a circle; in the second
are tubs set in a horse-shoe shape. The second room is a hypocaust
(with under-floor heating), and was probably used as a sauna. The
baths were largely ravaged by a fire at the end of the 3rd century
– 31km Eastward. At the heart of the city is Piazza Progresso.
There begin Via Roma and Corso Vittorio Emanuele, the main streets,
accommodating the city’s most attractive buildings, most of
which are from the 18th century. On Via Roma are the church and
the cloister of S. Domenico and the church of the Carmine. The latter
hosts the Frangipane Palace, with its unusual corbels, and the churches
of S. Francesco and S. Maria la Nova (the Mother Church).
Santa Caterina Villarmosa
Torre di Manfria
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