Friday, May 25, 2018

City of Catana in Sicily

The city of Catana lies on the coast in the centre of eastern Sicily, its harbor facing the Ionian sea – an excellent site for a port.

The Ionian colony at Catana was founded c.729 BC by Chalcidians from the mother colony of Sicilian Naxos, itself founded by a group of Chalcidians from Euboca. And until the 5th century BC it was mainly considered as a Greek trading town.

Catana possessed one of the Greek world’s first law codes, drawn up by certain Charondas, probably in the early 500s BC.

Catana was autonomous in the Archaic period, with a very active political and economic life. Greek goods gradually made into the interior along the river valleys.

By the early 5th century BC the city has lost its autonomy and was under Syracusan control. In 486 BC Syracusan tyrant Hieron I emptied Catana, exiling its inhabitants to Leontini, and repopulated the site with his Greek mercenary troops. But after Hieron’s death, the former Catanans recovered their city by force and gained independence in 461 BC.

Lava flow then destructed the site, and the rebuilt town was conquered by Dionysious I as he enslaved the whole population and moved in the Campanian soldiers.

Just as it became the commercial and maritime centre during the Norman ruling, a tragic earthquake in 1169 hit the town and destroyed a major part of the civilians. The devastation was huge, and only in 1434 did the town come back to its strength, as one of the world’s oldest universities was established.

The second half of 1600 was an extremely tragic period in Catana’s history: in 1669 there was a violent eruption of Etna and it covered everything with lava while the most disastrous of the earthquakes in 1693, wiped out the entire city, erasing almost all the vestiges of Middle Ages and Renaissance
City of Catana in Sicily
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