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Comune di Gela
Gela town by the pier
Gela town by the pier
Coat of arms of Gela
Location of Gela
Gela is located in Italy
Location of Gela in Italy
Gela is located in Sicily
Gela (Sicily)
Coordinates: 37°04′N 14°15′E / 37.067°N 14.250°E / 37.067; 14.250Coordinates: 37°04′N 14°15′E / 37.067°N 14.250°E / 37.067; 14.250
ProvinceCaltanissetta (CL)
 • MayorLucio Greco (Un'Altra Gela)
 • Total276 km2 (107 sq mi)
46 m (151 ft)
 (31 August 2017)[2]
 • Total75,001
 • Density270/km2 (700/sq mi)
Time zoneUTC+1 (CET)
 • Summer (DST)UTC+2 (CEST)
Postal code
Dialing code0933
Patron saintSt. Maria dell'Alemanna
Saint day8 September
WebsiteOfficial website

Gela (Italian pronunciation: [ˈdʒɛːla], Sicilian: [ˈdʒɛla]; Ancient Greek: Γέλα[3]), 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.[4]

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.[5] In 1943, during the Invasion of Sicily, the Allied forces made their first landing on the island at Gela.[6]


Ancient era

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".[7] According to Diodorus Siculus, the city was founded by the Antiphemus (Ἀντίφημος) and the Entimus (Ἔντιμος).[8]

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.[9] The expansion led to economic and social strain, causing people to leave the city and settle in nearby Maktorion.[10]

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.[11] After his death, power transferred to his brother Hippocrates, who conquered Callipoli, Leontini, Naxos, Hergetios and Zancles (present-day Messina).[12] 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.[13]

A Sileno head from Gela Archeological Museum
A Sileno head from Gela Archeological Museum

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.[7] 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.[14]

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.[15][16] 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.[17] 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.[18]

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".[19]

A later city called "Terranova", by which name it remained known until 1928, was founded in 1233 by Frederick II.[20] 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.[21] In 1401, however, after the treason of Andrea Chiaramonte, the city was confiscated and was assigned to several Aragonese feudataries.[22] 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.[23] 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.[24]

Modern era

Drone-cam picture of the urban area of the town

Terranova was renamed Terranova di Sicilia, and in 1927, it was renamed Gela.[25]

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.[6] 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.[26] 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.[27]


Gela promenade coastline
Gela promenade coastline

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.[4] In geology, Gela gives its name to the Gelasian Age of the Pleistocene Epoch.[28]


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.[29] 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.[29]

Climate data for Gela (1971–2000, extremes 1965–present)
Month Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Year
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)[30][31][32]

Main sights

This section is written like a travel guide rather than an encyclopedic description of the subject. Please help improve it by rewriting it in an encyclopedic style. If a travel guide is intended, use of Wikivoyage is strongly suggested. (January 2022)
The Torre di Manfria.
The Torre di Manfria.



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.[40][41]

Twin towns

See also: List of twin towns and sister cities in Italy

Gela is twinned with:[42]



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.[43]

Notable people

See also


  1. ^ "Superficie di Comuni Province e Regioni italiane al 9 ottobre 2011". Italian National Institute of Statistics. Retrieved 16 March 2019.
  2. ^ "Popolazione Residente al 1° Gennaio 2018". Italian National Institute of Statistics. Retrieved 16 March 2019.
  3. ^ Smith, William, ed. (1854–1857). "Gela". Dictionary of Greek and Roman Geography. London: John Murray.
  4. ^ a b "Comune di Gela". Retrieved 20 February 2021.
  5. ^ "La vita di Eschilo". Museo Eschilo Gela (in Italian). Retrieved 29 April 2021.
  6. ^ a b La Monte, John L. & Lewis, Winston B. The Sicilian Campaign, 10 July – 17 August 1943 (1993) United States Government Printing Office ISBN 0-945274-17-3 pp.56-96
  7. ^ a b Ashby, Thomas (1911). "Gela" . In Chisholm, Hugh (ed.). Encyclopædia Britannica. Vol. 11 (11th ed.). Cambridge University Press. p. 554.
  8. ^ Diodorus Siculus, Library 8-40, 8.23.1
  9. ^ Spina, Giuseppe La (6 September 2016). "L'arrivo dei Greci e la fondazione della polis di Ghela (GELA)". Gela Le radici del Futuro (in Italian). Retrieved 19 February 2021.
  10. ^ "Gela: l'area archeologica Monte Bubbonia abbandonata e saccheggiata". (in Italian). 26 May 2020. Retrieved 19 February 2021.
  11. ^ Braccesi e Millino, op. cit. p. 58.
  12. ^ Braccesi e Millino, op. cit. p. 59.
  13. ^ Lorenzo Braccesi, Hesperia 9. 1998. p. 44.
  14. ^ "L'assedio di Imera". Ars Bellica. Retrieved 19 February 2021.
  15. ^ "La battaglia di Gela". Ars Bellica. Retrieved 19 February 2021.
  16. ^ Kern Paul B., Ancient Greek Warfare. p. 172.
  17. ^ Diodorus Siculus, XXII, 2,4.
  18. ^ Emanuele Zuppardo-Salvatore Piccolo, Terra Mater. Sulle Sponde del Gela Greco, Betania Editrice, Caltanissetta 2005, pgg. 162-163.
  19. ^ Ventura, Giuseppe. "Profilo storico". Comune di Gela (in Italian). Retrieved 20 February 2021.
  20. ^ "Da Gela a Terranova: fondazione e rifondazioni" (in Italian). Retrieved 7 April 2021.
  21. ^ "Colonna Dorica". Gela Le radici del Futuro (in Italian). Retrieved 20 February 2021.
  22. ^ Randazzo, Antonio. "Chiaramonte". nobili (in Italian). Retrieved 20 February 2021.
  23. ^ "GLI ARAGONA TAGLIAVIA". Chiesa di San Domenico (in Italian). Retrieved 20 February 2021.
  24. ^ "Pignatelli Aragona Cortés E Mendoza" (PDF) (in Italian). Retrieved 7 April 2021. ((cite journal)): Cite journal requires |journal= (help)
  25. ^ "Da nome Gela a Terranova: fondazione e rifondazioni storiche". itGela (in Italian). 15 June 2018. Retrieved 20 February 2021.
  26. ^ "La costruzione della raffineria Anic di Gela. Di Rosario Costa : Associazione Pionieri e Veterani Eni" (in Italian). Retrieved 20 February 2021.
  27. ^ "Gela si ferma contro la chiusura della raffineria Eni". TGLA7 (in Italian). Retrieved 20 February 2021.
  28. ^ "Monte San Nicola (CL)". Retrieved 20 February 2021.
  29. ^ a b "Clima Gela: temperatura, medie climatiche, pioggia Gela. Temperatura dell'acqua Gela -". Retrieved 20 February 2021.
  30. ^ "Gela (CL)" (PDF). Servizio Meteorologico. Retrieved 18 May 2013.
  31. ^ "Tabella CLINO 1961-1990: Stazione 453 Gela" (in Italian). Servizio Meteorologico. Retrieved 18 May 2013.
  32. ^ "Gela: Record mensili dal 1965" (in Italian). Servizio Meteorologico dell’Aeronautica Militare. Retrieved 23 February 2016.
  33. ^ "MONUMENTI". itGela (in Italian). Retrieved 20 February 2021.
  34. ^ "L'Acropoli di Gela: i ritrovamenti di un passato glorioso". itGela (in Italian). 28 June 2018. Retrieved 20 February 2021.
  35. ^ a b Chisholm, Hugh, ed. (1911). "Terranova" . Encyclopædia Britannica. Vol. 26 (11th ed.). Cambridge University Press. p. 650.
  36. ^ "Chiesa Madre di Gela: storia e curiosità sul gioiello gelese". itGela (in Italian). 8 May 2018. Retrieved 20 February 2021.
  37. ^ Ventura, Giuseppe. "Il Castelluccio". Comune di Gela (in Italian). Retrieved 20 February 2021.
  38. ^ "RNO Biviere di Gela | Riserva Naturale Orientata Biviere di Gela". Retrieved 20 February 2021.
  39. ^ 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". (in Italian). Retrieved 20 February 2021.
  40. ^ Ancient necropolis discovered during roadworks in Sicily
  42. ^ Bove, Luigi (11 June 2019). "I gemellaggi di Gela: Eleusi, Nordkapp e Wittingen". itGela (in Italian). Retrieved 19 February 2021.
  43. ^ "Lega Pro 1° B 2010/2011 - 34. Giornata". (in Italian). Retrieved 29 April 2021.