SCIACCA

The territory of Sciacca was definitely inhabited since Neolithic times, probably thanks to its thermal waters which gush out from Monte San Calogero. Tucidide already referred to a takeover by Salinunte, then known by the Romans by the name of Thermae Selinuntinae.
But tradition wants that Sciacca has a more ancient foundation by the hands of the Sicani, and re-establishes the myth of Dedalo who when trying to escape the Cretan King of Minosse, sought refuge in Inico, ancient Sciacca, constructing the famous stoves of San Calogero.
It’s certain though, that fist the Phoenicians and then the Greeks from Selinunte passed through and sought refuge in 409 BC, after the destruction of their own City by the Carthaginians.
Due to its strategic geographical position between Agrigento and Mazara, Sciacca was centre of the wars between the Greeks and Carthaginians, and two important battles were fought on its territory between Dionysius of Syracuse, Imilcone, Agatocle and Pirro (4th Century BC).
Having passed hands to Rome, the City became more important for its geographical position and its thermal waters, making it an important postal station, which during the Imperial times was known by the name of Aquae Labodes.
Little is known about Byzantine times, but in ‘840 it was conquered by the Arabs who named it As-saqah and who transformed the City’s urban town planning, allowing it to enjoy wealth and splendour.
With the arrival of the Normans (1087) of Ruggero d’Altavilla, Sciacca was encircled by town walls and fortified and the Castello Vecchio (Old Castle) was built.
It then passed hands to the Swabians under Federico II, who developed the City as a state property and a large commercial wholesale goods centre.
In 1268, the City was besieged by Carlo I d’Angiò and insulted in every possible way, but with the Vespri Siciliani (Siclian Vespers), it immediately regained its proud independence by becoming a free Commune.
In 1302, it resisted siege by French troops under the command of Carlo di Valois, and remained in the hands of the Aragonese who constructed new city walls in 1336 in defence of the continual assaults by the French, which lasted until 1373.
Successive centuries saw powerful noble families of Sciacca (Peralta, Perollo, Luna) set afire the political life with strong rivalries, often frayed, in public massacres (1529).
In 1550, a new town-wall was constructed and the City experienced a period of decline, moreover during which the City’s urban aspect changed and it assumed a Baroque character.
There are many places of interest in the City beginning with the Medieval and Renaissance walls, along which one can find three portals: Porta Palermo, Porta San Salvatore (16th Century) and Porta San Calogero (1536), where one can visit the nearby Renaissance Church of S. Maria of Giglio, S. Maria dell’Itria and Saint Michael the Archangel (reconstructed in 1371). Other religious buildings: the Church of San Nicolò La Latina (12th Century), the Church of Santa Margherita (1342) and the Duomo or Church of Maria SS del Soccorso, built on the wishes of Giuditta, daughter of Ruggero I of Sicily.
A visit to the area of the Castello dei Luna (Moon Castle) is also recommended, where one can visit the only remaining tower and external walls, and the Medieval district of Terravecchia (Old Land).
The Selinuntine Thermals, famous since the Greek era, were re-opened in the 20th Century, and thanks to their high therapeutic nature, are today amongst the main attractions of Sciacca.
The stoves of San Calogero, on the homonymous hills, are rocky, vaporous cavities which have shown signs of settlement dating back to the pre-historic age (Neolithic). Remains from digs are now exposed at the Antiquarium of M. Cronio. The grottos were abandoned during the Bronze Age at the beginning of the thermal phenomenon.

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