The city of the Strait

Messina:the “city of the Strait”.

The origins and history of the “city of the Strait” are shrouded in legend and imaginative popular beliefs that date back to prehistoric times.

Here, settlers from Cuma and Chalcis founded the ancient city of Zancle in 756 BC, a meeting place for many peoples for the strategic importance of the site.

Conquered by Siceliotes and Carthaginians, Messina (so renamed by the tyrant of Reggio) became the first Roman colony in Sicily. It maintained its splendor until the beginning of the barbarian invasions.

It resisted under the Byzantines the wave of the new Muslim invasion until 843 A.D. With the advent of the Normans in 1061, Messina acquired important privileges and a new municipal constitution.

Under the Angevins, at the time of the Crusades, the city became an important military port. The flourishing of culture was accompanied by the great urban development, with the presence of important figures such as the artist Antonello da Messina.

Rebelled in vain against the Spanish rule between 1675 and 1678, the Messinesi were hit by terrible calamities.  The plague of 1743 and the earthquakes of 1783 and 1908, which completely destroyed the city.

Of great artistic interest, the Norman Cathedral (built in 1160 under the reign of Roger II) with the nearby Bell Tower, which houses the largest astronomical clock in the world.