Sicily across millennia - from ancient Pheonicians, Greeks and Romans, through medieval Byzantine, Islamic and Norman times to west-European influence …
It’s true that each and every place on our Earth (country, island, city….etc. ) has its own natural wonders, architectural marvels, cultural achievements and richness of its people.
Even apparently “dead” deserts’ landscapes as well as seemingly “boring” seascapes can be extraordinarily dramatic and leave long-lasting “imprints” in our memories (if you have doubts then see Furnace Creek Oasis in Death Valley (US) and William Turner’s paintings in Tate Gallery (UK)).
The bottom line is: “Beauty is Everywhere Around”, we just have to open our eyes, souls and hearts to see, feel and live it! Yes, it’s as simple as that but for many of us, lost in the hectic life of big cities, it may be a shocking truth…
Cefalu - Megalithic structure
We all know that it is difficult to break habits, but if there is something that can help – then certainly it is Travel! As brilliantly phrased by Miriam Beard:
“Travel is more than the seeing of sights; it is a change that goes on, deep and permanent, in the ideas of living.”
And the good news is – God created Sicily!
Remains of the Phoenician boat (Marsala)
Sicily as a travel destination seems to be quite unique in the whole world. This relatively small island having the size comparable to Vermont (US), throughout millennia of more or less flourishing civilization(s) accumulated unparalleled amount of historical monuments and masterpieces of art. You will find there not only remains of ancient temples, amphitheaters and baths (still impressive regardless their shapes), but also (and in much better forms) Medieval castle and fortresses as well as splendid palaces, cathedrals, monasteries, churches …. (you name it), literally stuffed with pieces of art and filled with vibes reminiscent of their “golden” times….. .
Agrigento - Temple of Juno
In fact, Sicily is dotted with UNESCO’s World Heritage sites covering entire old towns! So at almost every step you make, every turn you take and every look you have, you will come across the glory of the past…. What’s equally precious – over the same millennia, Sicilian people accumulated quite amazing collective human characteristics – kindness, openness, friendliness, and despite quite often harsh life – ability to fins and appreciate the joy in life!
Sicilian hilly landscapes dominated by Mt Etna, miles and miles of coastline, pleasant Mediterranean climate, long spring (or if you wish - no winter), incredibly rich cuisine – all that adds the “Sicilian Experience”.
Ancient Sicily - map of Elymian, Phenician and Greek settlements
Visiting Sicily, you will have chance to be part of this richness!
On these pages you will find thousand and one (actually I’m pretty sure – more than that) ideas about what waits for you in Sicily. These are just ideas, not necessarily to follow but to inspire you to make “extra steps”…. Because as someone pointed it out: “Do not follow where the path may lead. Go instead where there is no path and leave a trail” …..
Sicily: Tracks of Phoenician Civilization
Erice - Defensive walls remember times of Phoenician colony
Phoenicians came to Sicily at around 9th century BC. By the time of first incursions lead by Greeks, Phoenicians have already few strongholds and commercial harbors, mainly along the north-western coast of the island (from today’s Marsala to Palermo).
See details at: --> Phoenician Sicily
Sicily: Presence of Ancient Greece
Agrigento: Hercules' Temple
Greeks started colonization of the Sicily some 750BC and kept their control over the major part of the island for more than five centuries. Soon after arrival of first colonizers from Greece the cities like Naxos, Syracuse, Katane (Catania) and Zancle (Messina) were founded along the eastern coast. With time, Greeks spread over the island founding new cities like Taormina, Gela, Selinunte, Agrigento, Segesta…..
See details at: --> Sicily - Traces of Ancient Greece
Sicily - Roman Province
Catania: Fragment of the Roman amphitheater
At the end of third Punic Wars (around 210 BC) Romans became unquestionable rulers of the island. This swap of power also started the longest period of prosperity lasting almost to the end of the Roman Imperium. Unlike other conquerors, Romans did not uproot Hellenistic culture, but rather adopted the best of it for their own benefits. Long after taking the control of Sicily by Romans .....
See details at: --> Sicily under Roman Control
Sicily under Byzantium influence
Cathedral of Montreale - Byzantine mosaics
During 6th century AD Eastern Roman Empire (commonly known as Byzantium) tried to recover as much as possible from the collapsed and dismembered Western Roman Empire. Fighting back Vandals, they recaptured Sicily making it in 535 a Byzantine Province. The new rulers found there “fertile grounds” because they brought back to island what indeed was never lost - Greek’s culture (and language) with “ingredients” of Western Roman......
See more at: --> Sicily - Byzantine Influence
Sicily under the control of Arabs
Castle La Cuba: Muquarnas
With the birth of Islam, previously scattered Arabic tribes united by common faith, gradually raised to the leading regional power. Medieval Europe called them Saracens, although the name reflected rather their unifying religious background (Muslims) than ethnicity.
Thanks to the military might as well as remarkably advanced civilization, expansion of Saracens “Out of Africa” was only a matter of time. Not surprisingly, in 9th century AD Saracens gradually .....
See details at: --> Sicily under Arabs' Control
Sicily - Norman Kingdom
By the end of 11th century under the command of King Roger 1st, Normans (descendants of Vikings) took the control of Sicily from Arabs. The victorious battle of Palermo in 1091 changed the history of Sicily, ending forever the period of dominance of Mediterranean Civilizations (Phoenicians, Greeks, Romans, Arabs and Byzantium) and moving it under an “umbrella” of the Northwestern Europe. Indeed during the following centuries the destiny of the island was shaped by Norman, French (Angevin), German (Hohenstaufen), Spanish (Aragon) royal....
See details at: --> Norman Kingdom of Sicily
Siciliy: West-European Influence
Noto: Church San Domenico
Although modern European trends in art and architecture were finding their ways to Sicily, it was actually the natural disaster that accelerated their triumphal arrival. In 1693 the massive earthquake almost completely leveled the eastern part of the island. Most of Medieval Catania, Noto, Syracuse, Ragusa, Modica, Messina (to name only few most recognizable cities) were in rubbles and with them most of Islamic, Norman and Byzantine-inspired architectural marvels......
See details at: --> Sicilian Baroque
After following the History of Sicily feel free to explore the following:
For city-goers: --> Top Tourist Destinations
For Nature Lowers: --> Sicilian Nature Parks
You may want to know: --> Why Sicily is 4U?
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