Gela (Italian pronunciation: [ˈdʒɛːla], Sicilian: [ˈdʒɛla]; Ancient Greek: Γέλα), is a city and comune in the Autonomous Region of Sicily, Italy; in terms of area and population, it is the largest comune on Sicily's southern coast. Gela is part of Caltanissetta province and is the only comune in Italy with a population and area that exceed those of the province's capital.
|Comune di Gela|
Gela town by the pier
|• Mayor||Lucio Greco (Un'Altra Gela)|
|• Total||276 km2 (107 sq mi)|
|Elevation||46 m (151 ft)|
|• Density||270/km2 (700/sq mi)|
|Time zone||UTC+1 (CET)|
|• Summer (DST)||UTC+2 (CEST)|
|Patron saint||St. Maria dell'Alemanna|
|Saint day||8 September|
Gela was founded in 698 BC by Greek colonists from Rhodes and Crete; it was an influential polis in Sicily in the 7th and 6th centuries BC and the place where Aeschylus (died 456 BC) lived and died. In 1943, during the Invasion of Sicily, the Allied forces made their first landing on the island at Gela.
Gela was founded around 688 BC by colonists from Rhodes and Crete, 45 years after the founding of Syracuse. The city was named after the river Gela, the name of which derives from gela, the Sicilian-dialect word for "winter frost". According to Diodorus Siculus, the city was founded by the Antiphemus (Ἀντίφημος) and the Entimus (Ἔντιμος).
The Greeks established many colonies in Magna Graecia, and for many centuries, they had a major influence on the area. Gela flourished and after a century, a group of Geloi founded the colony of Agrigento. The expansion led to economic and social strain, causing people to leave the city and settle in nearby Maktorion.
For over a century, ancient historians made no further mention was made about the internal politics of the cityuntil they note that a tyrant named Cleander ruled Gela between 505 BC and 498 or 497 BC. After his death, power transferred to his brother Hippocrates, who conquered Callipoli, Leontini, Naxos, Hergetios and Zancles (present-day Messina). Only Syracuse, with the help of her former colonizing city Corinth and Corcyra managed to escape. When Camarina, a Syracusan colony, rebelled in 492 BC, Hippocrates intervened to wage war against Syracuse. After defeating the Syracusan army at the Heloros river, Hippocrates besieged the city but was persuaded to retreat in exchange for possession of Camarina. Hippocrates died in 491 BC in a battle against the Siculi, the native Sicilian people.
Hippocrates was succeeded by Gelon, who in 484 BC conquered Syracuse and moved his seat of government there. His brother Hiero was given control over Gela. When Theron of Agrigento conquered Himera and a Carthaginian army disembarked in Sicily to counter him, he asked for help from Gela and Syracuse. Gelo and Hiero were victorious in the subsequent battle of Himera, in which the Carthaginian leader Hamilcar died.
After the death of Gelon in 478 BC, Hiero moved to Syracuse, leaving Gela to Polyzelos. Thenceforth, the history of the city becomes uncertain: it has been suggested[by whom?] the citizens freed themselves from the rule of tyrants and established a democratic government. Many of the Geloi returned from Syracuse in this period and the city regained some of its power. Aischylos died in this city in 456 BC. Gela fought the Sicilian League that pushed back the Athenian attempt to conquer the island in 415 BC (see Sicilian Expedition).
In 406 BC, the Carthaginians conquered Agrigento and destroyed it. Gela asked for the help of Dionysius I of Syracuse but for unknown reasons, Dionysius did not arrive in time and, after heroic deeds, the following year, Gela was ruined in and its treasures were sacked. The survivors took refuge in Syracuse. In 397 BC, they returned in Gela and joined Dionysius II in his struggle for freedom from the invaders, and in 383 BC, their independence was acknowledged.
Under Agathocles (317-289 BC), the city again suffered internal strife between the general population and the aristoi (aristocrats). When the Carthaginians arrived in 311 BC, they met little resistance and captured the city with the help of the aristoi. In 282 BC, of Agrigento, who had founded a city next to present-day Licata, ruthlessly destroyed Gela to crush its power forever. This assertion, however, seems to be refuted by a careful reading of the sources that name the Mamertines as the real destroyers of the city, five years earlier.
Roman, Byzantine and mediaeval ages
The city subsequently disappeared from the chronicles. Under Roman rule, a small settlement, which is mentioned by Virgil, Pliny the Elder, Cicero, and Strabo, still existed. Later it was a minor Byzantine center. Under the Arabs, it was known as the "City of Columns".
A later city called "Terranova", by which name it remained known until 1928, was founded in 1233 by Frederick II. The new settlement was located west of ancient Gela, and was provided with a castle and a line of walls. Terranova, also known as Heracles, was a royal possession until 1369, when King Frederick III of Aragon gave it to Manfredi III Chiaramonte. In 1401, however, after the treason of Andrea Chiaramonte, the city was confiscated and was assigned to several Aragonese feudataries. In 1530, the title of Marquis of Terranova was created for Giovanni Tagliavia Aragona, and in 1561, his son Carlo obtained the title of Duke. The Terranova Aragona held the city until 1640, when the marriage of Giovanna Tagliavia Aragona and Ettore Pignatelli give the possession to the Pignatelli, who held the fiefdom until 1812.
In World War II, during the during the initial assault on 9 July 1943 of the Allied invasion of Sicily , the U.S. 1st Infantry Division and the 82nd Armored Reconnaissance Battalion landed on the beaches of Gela, which were strongly defended by the Livorno Division. The Allied forces repelled an Italian and German armored counter-attack at Gela. The U.S. Army Engineers built several advanced landing airfields, which was used by the Twelfth Air Force during the Italian Campaign, in the area around the city.
After the war, a large oil refinery was built in Gela's territory as a part of Eni's industrial expansion plan in South Italy. The refinery was intended to help the region's economy but instead it caused significant damage to the area's visual appearance and touristic appeal and in 2014, the refinery was closed down.
Gela is situated on the Mediterranean coast at the estuary of Gela river on the south-western side of Sicily. The bounding municipalities are Acate, Butera, Caltagirone, Mazzarino and Niscemi. Its frazione (municipal parish) is the coastal village of Manfria. In geology, Gela gives its name to the Gelasian Age of the Pleistocene Epoch.
Gela has a borderline semi-arid climate (Köppen: BSk) and a Mediterranean climate (Köppen: Csa), and receives just enough precipitation to avoid being classified as semi-arid. Winters are mild and rainy while summers are dry and warm, though cooler than inland locations owing to the temperature-moderating effects of the sea.
|Climate data for Gela (1971–2000, extremes 1965–present)|
|Record high °C (°F)||22.0
|Average high °C (°F)||15.0
|Daily mean °C (°F)||11.9
|Average low °C (°F)||8.8
|Record low °C (°F)||0.0
|Average precipitation mm (inches)||47.4
|Average precipitation days (≥ 1.0 mm)||6.0||6.0||4.7||4.3||2.1||0.4||0.3||0.8||2.6||5.0||6.4||6.9||45.5|
|Average relative humidity (%)||78||76||74||73||72||73||74||76||76||78||78||79||76|
|Mean monthly sunshine hours||145.7||155.4||204.6||219.0||266.6||285.0||325.5||297.6||249.0||217.0||171.0||139.5||2,675.9|
|Source: Servizio Meteorologico (humidity and sun, 1961–1990)|
- The Greek Acropolis.
- The Regional Archeological Museum.
- The archeological site of Capo Soprano with the Greek fortification and Hellenistic quarters. It was probably an ancient necropolis. Its many fine Attic vases are now in various museums.
- Zona sacra, including the basements of three Greek temples, the oldest of which has an 8-meter (26 ft) Doric column. Remains of an archaic (7th-6th centuries BC) emporium have also been excavated.
- The Cathedral, dedicated to the Holy Virgin Assunta, was rebuilt in 1766-1794 over a pre-existing small church of Madonna della Platea. It has two orders façade with Doric and Ionic semi-columns. The interior, with a nave and two aisles, houses a wood with the Transit of the Virgin by Deodato Guidaccia and other 18th centuries canvasses.
- The Castelluccio ("Small Castle"), built in the early 13th century. It is located 10 km (6 mi) from the city.
- Natural Reserve of Biviere di Gela, including a coastal lake surrounded by dunes.
- Manfria, with a typical beach with Mediterranean dune landscape, and the Torre di Manfria ("Manfria Tower").
In 2019, a sarcophagus containing an intact skeleton was discovered at Gela. Some weeks later, a short distance away, a ceramic water jug containing the bones of a newborn baby and parts of a large animal's skeleton was discovered. Archaeologists said the place was certainly a Greek necropolis.
Gela is twinned with:
Gela has got a football team; S.S.D. Città di Gela. Their football stadium is Stadio Vincenzo Presti. This team was founded in 1975 and re-founded in 2006 and 2011. Their best performance in Italian football was the 12th position in the group B of the 2010–11 Lega Pro Prima Divisione.
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- Diodorus Siculus, XXII, 2,4.
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- Chisholm, Hugh, ed. (1911). Encyclopædia Britannica. 26 (11th ed.). Cambridge University Press. p. 650..
- "Chiesa Madre di Gela: storia e curiosità sul gioiello gelese". itGela (in Italian). 8 May 2018. Retrieved 20 February 2021.
- Ventura, Giuseppe. "Il Castelluccio". Comune di Gela (in Italian). Retrieved 20 February 2021.
- "RNO Biviere di Gela | Riserva Naturale Orientata Biviere di Gela". Retrieved 20 February 2021.
- Guide, IlTurista info | Viaggi del Turista-; Viaggio, Notizie Ed Offerte Di. "Manfria (Sicilia): la Torre, la leggenda e la spiaggia del lido di Gela | Guida e foto". ilTurista.info (in Italian). Retrieved 20 February 2021.
- Ancient necropolis discovered during roadworks in Sicily
- A GELA NUOVI REPERTI ARCHEOLOGICI, SCOPERTA NECROPOLI DI ETÀ ARCAICA
- Bove, Luigi (11 June 2019). "I gemellaggi di Gela: Eleusi, Nordkapp e Wittingen". itGela (in Italian). Retrieved 19 February 2021.
- "Lega Pro 1° B 2010/2011 - 34. Giornata". calcio.com (in Italian). Retrieved 29 April 2021.