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I Borghi più belli d'Italia - Sicily, Geraci Siculo
Lightbox (15) Tags: architecture borghi-piu-belli-ditalia europe history italy sicily Posted: Dec. 12, 2011 by Vassilik
Location of "The most beautiful villages in Italy" in Sicily
From left to right (Click on map markers for details): Cefalù, Geraci Siculo, San Marco d'Alunzio, Brolo, Montelbano Elicona, Novara di Sicilia, Savoca, Castelmola
Chiesa di Santo Stefano, Geraci Siculo (Sicily, Italy). Media credit: Genzi (Wikipedia, Geraci Siculo), License details
Date licensed: Dec. 6, 2011
Chiesa Madre e Piazza, Geraci Siculo (Sicily, Italy). Media credit: Genzi (Wikipedia, Geraci Siculo), License details
Date licensed: Dec. 6, 2011
Geraci Siculo is a small village (with population slightly more than two thousand people) located inside the Madonie mountain range (a part of the Northern mountain chain in Sicily included in the Madonie Park - a regional nature park created in 1989). Opposite to Cefalù (which is experiencing a growing population), Geraci Siculo is in obvious decline in terms of people living there since the 30s of 20th centuries. It is not accidental that the village became a member of the "I borghi più belli d'Italia" club.
Evidences found in the countryside surrounding Geraci Siculus suggest that the adjacent territories were inhabited since prehistoric times. The ingenious population of Sicels and Sicani (as well as Morgeti, mysterious Italic people who believed to have crossed the sea to move from the Calabria region to Sicily) was colonized by Greeks (around 8th century BC) who are believed to have given the settlement the name of Jerax. The latter means "vulture" and probably related to the fact that the Castle (the original place of the settlement built on the rock) attracted these predators.
The Greek period was followed by Roman and Byzantine periods; after that the territory was conquered by Saracens. With the Norman conquest in 11th century, the village played an important military role as one of the cornerstones of Regnum Siciliae (The Kingdom of Sicily). In 13th - 14th centuries, the powers of La Contea di Geraci (the County of Geraci) grew significantly. During that period, Geraci was similar to a state in the state. The name of the village became known to the whole Italy in 15th century when Giovanni I, the Count and Marquis of Geraci, an audacious military commander became the Governor of Naples and the Viceroy of Sicily. However, with the transfer of the center of his power from Geraci to Castelbuono (about 14 miles (23 km) north), the importance of Geraci as a place started declining. At the end of 16th century - beginning of 17th century, Castelbuono assumed all central functions in the region, both administratively and militarily.
Geraci Siculo has ancient origins with the layout and architecture dating back to medieval times. Lying on the back of a rocky hill, the small town has an urban structure of narrow streets and winding alleys and courtyards dominated by the ruins of a castle. There is a number of well preserved churches and other structures worth to visit or look at. Among them:
There are several celebrations and festivals that take place in Geraci Siculo annually. Among them: