Sites & cities that bear the name of Cefalù


Today in : Italy
First trace of activity : ca. 9th century B.C.E
Last trace of activity : today
Recorded names : Κεφαλοίδιον, Kephaloídion, Κεφαλοιδίς, Kephaloidís, 𐤓‬𐤔 𐤌𐤋‬𐤒𐤓‬𐤕, rš mlqrt, Cape Melqart, Cephaloedium, Cephaloedis, Gafludi, Cifalù

Description : Cefalù, the classical Cephaloedium (Κεφαλοίδιον), is a city and comune in the Italian Metropolitan City of Palermo, located on the Tyrrhenian coast of Sicily about 70 km (43 mi) east of the provincial capital and 185 km (115 mi) west of Messina. The town, with its population of just under 14,000, is one of the major tourist attractions in the region. Despite its size, every year it attracts millions of tourists from all parts of Sicily and also, from all over Italy and Europe. Of Greek foundation, the city evidently derived its name from its situation on a lofty and precipitous rock, forming a bold headland (Greek: κεφαλή, kephalḗ, 'head') projecting into the sea. Despite the Greek origin of its name, no mention of it is found in the works of Thucydides, who expressly says that Himera was the only Greek colony on this coast of the island; it is probable that Cephaloedium was at this time merely a fortress (φρούριον, phroúrion) belonging to the Himeraeans and may very likely have been first peopled by refugees after the destruction of Himera. Its name first appears in history at the time of the Carthaginian expedition under Himilco, 396 BC, when that general concluded a treaty with the Himeraeans and the inhabitants of Cephaloedium. But after the defeat of the Carthaginian armament, Dionysius the Elder made himself master of Cephaloedium, which was betrayed into his hands. At a later period we find it again independent, but apparently on friendly terms with the Carthaginians, on which account it was attacked and taken by Agathocles, 307 BC. In the First Punic War it was reduced by the Roman fleet under Atilius Calatinus and Scipio Nasica, 254 BC, but by treachery and not by force of arms. Cicero speaks of it as apparently a flourishing town, enjoying full municipal privileges; it was, in his time, one of the civitates decumanae which paid the tithes of their corn in kind to the Roman state and suffered severely from the oppressions and exactions of Verres. It also minted coins. No subsequent mention of it is found in history, but it is noticed among the towns of Sicily by the geographers Strabo, Pliny, and Ptolemy, and at a later period its name is still found in the itineraries. After the fall of the Western Roman Empire, the town remained part of the Byzantine (Eastern Roman) Empire and the settlement was eventually moved from the plain to the current spur for defense, like many cities during the Byzantine era, as the Mediterranean was no longer solely controlled by the empire and was subject to Arab incursions. Nevertheless the old town was never entirely abandoned. In AD 858, after a long siege, it was conquered by the Arabs. For the following two centuries it was part of the Emirate of Sicily. In 1063, the Normans captured it. In 1131, Roger II, king of Sicily, transferred it from its almost inaccessible position to one at the foot of the rock, where there was a small but excellent harbor and began construction of the present Byzantine-style cathedral. In addition to Arabs the area was still inhabited by its original Greek speakers (today called Byzantine Greeks, then called Rûm i.e. 'Romans,' by the Arabs), and these Christians were then still members of the Byzantine (Greek Orthodox) church. Between the 13th century and 1451, it was under different feudal families, and then it became a possession of the bishops of Cefalù.

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