Gela (Italian pronunciation: [ˈdʒɛːla]; Ancient Greek: Γέλα[3]), is a city and comune in the Autonomous Region of Sicily, the largest for area and population in the island's southern coast. It is part of the Caltanissetta province, being the only comune in Italy with a population and area that exceeds those of the province's capital. Founded by Greek colonists from Rhodes and Crete in 689 BC, Gela was the most influential polis in Sicily between the 7th and 6th centuries and the place where Aeschylus lived and died in 456 BC. In 1943 Gela was the first Italian beach reached by allies during the Invasion of Sicily from the allies.

Comune di Gela
Gela town by the pier
Gela town by the pier
Coat of arms of Gela

Coat of arms
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°ECoordinates: 37°04′N 14°15′E / 37.067°N 14.250°E
ProvinceCaltanissetta (CL)
 • MayorLucio Greco (Un'Altra Gela)
 • Total279.07 km2 (107.75 sq mi)
46 m (151 ft)
 • Total74,858
 • Density270/km2 (690/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


Ancient era

The city 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 Greeks established many colonies in the south of what is now Italy, and for many centuries had a major influence on the area. Gela flourished and after only a century, a group of Geloi founded the colony of Agrigento. The expansion, however, led to economic and social strain, causing the plebs to leave the city and settle in nearby Maktorion. However, the revolt was opposed by the high priest of Diana and the exiled plebs returned to Gela.

For over a century no further mention is made about the internal politics of the city, until the ancient historians note that a tyrant, Cleander, ruled Gela between 505 BC and 498 BC. After his death, power transferred to his brother Hippocrates, who conquered Callipoli, Leontini, Naxos, Hergetios and Zancles (present-day Messina). Only Syracuse, with the help of her former colonizing city, Corinth and Corcyra, managed to escape the Gelese expansion. When Camarina, a Syracusan colony, rebelled in 492 BC, Hippocrates intervened to wage war against Syracuse. After having defeated the Syracusan army at the Heloros river, he besieged the city but was convinced to retreat in exchange for possession of Camarina. The tyrant lost his life in 491 in a battle against the Siculi, the native Sicilian people.

Antefissa a testa di sileno, 470-460 ac ca., da gela (M.A. Reg.le gela)
A Sileno head from Gela Archeological Museum

Hippocrates was succeeded by Gelo, who, in 484, conquered Syracuse and moved his seat of government there. His brother Hiero was given control over Gela. 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 lost his life.

After the death of Gelo (478 BC), Hiero moved to Syracuse, leaving Gela to Polyzelos. Thenceforth the history of the city becomes uncertain: it has been suggested that 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 part of its power: Aischylos died in this city in 456 BC. Gela was at the head of the Sicilian league that pushed back the Athenian attempt to conquer the island in 415 BC (see Sicilian Expedition).

In 406 the Carthaginians conquered Agrigento and destroyed it. Gela asked for the help of Dionysius I of Syracuse. However, for unknown reasons, the latter did not arrive in time and, after heroic deeds, Gela was ruined and its treasures sacked (405). The survivors took refuge in Syracuse. In 397 they returned home and joined Dionysius II in his struggle for freedom from the invaders, and in 383 BC they saw their independence acknowledged.

Under Agathocles (317-289 BC) the city suffered again for internal strife between the general population and the 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 Phintias of Agrigento, who had founded a city next to present-day Licata, ruthlessly destroyed Gela to crush its power forever.[4] However, this assertion seems to be refuted by a careful reading of the sources that make suppose the Mamertines as the real destroyers of the city, five years earlier, in 287 BC.[5]

Roman, Byzantine and mediaeval ages

The city subsequently disappeared from the chronicles. Under Roman rule, a small settlement still existed, which is mentioned by Virgil, Pliny the Elder, Cicero, and Strabo. Later it was a minor Byzantine center. Under the Arabs, it was known as the "City of Columns".

The later city was founded in AD 1233 by Frederick II by the name Terranova, by which it remained known until 1928. The new settlement was west of the 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. In 1401, however, it was confiscated after the treason of Andrea Chiaramonte, and assigned to several Aragonese feudataries. 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. The Terranova Aragona held the city until 1640, when the marriage of Giovanna Tagliavia Aragona and Ettore Pignatelli give the possession to the latter's family. The Pignatelli held the fief until 1812.

Modern era

Renamed Terranova di Sicilia, in 1927 the city was renamed Gela.

In World War II, during the Allied invasion of Sicily in July 1943, the U.S. 1st Infantry Division, with the 82nd Armored Reconnaissance Battalion, landed on the beaches strongly defended by the Livorno Division[6] during the initial assault on 9 July 1943. The Allied forces repelled an Italian and German armored counterattack at Gela.[7] Several advanced landing airfields were built by the U.S. Army Engineers in the area around the city which was used by the Twelfth Air Force during the Italian Campaign.

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. This was to help the economy of the region, but instead it caused significant damage to the area's visual appearance and touristic appeal. In 2014, the refinery closed down.


Gela promenade coastline

Gela is situated on the Mediterranean coast at the estuary of Gela river, in 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.

In geology, Gela gives its name to the Gelasian Age of the Pleistocene Epoch.


Gela has a borderline semi-arid climate (Köppen: BSk) and a Mediterranean climate (Köppen: Csa) and receives just enough precipitation to avoid it being classified as semi-arid. Winters are mild and rainy while summers are dry and warm though cooler than inland locations owing to the proximity of the sea, which moderates temperatures.

Main sights

Torre di Manfria (Gela)
The Torre di Manfria.
  • The Greek Acropolis.
  • The Regional Archeological Museum.
  • The archeological site of Capo Soprano (with the Greek fortification and Hellenistic quarters).
  • Zona sacra including the basements of three Greek temples; of one, the most ancient one, an 8-meters Doric column is also visible. Remains of an archaic (7th-6th centuries BC) emporium have also been excavated.
  • The Cathedral, dedicated to the Holy Virgin Assunta, was rebuilt in 1766-1794 over a pre-existing small church of Madonna della Platea. It has two orders façade with Doric and Ionic semi-columns. The interior, with a nave and two aisles, houses a wood with the Transit of the Virgin by Deodato Guidaccia and other 18th centuries canvasses.
  • The Castelluccio ("Small Castle"), built in the early 13th century. It is located 10 km (6 mi) from the city.
  • Natural Reserve of Biviere di Gela, including a coastal lake surrounded by dunes.
  • Manfria, with a typical beach with Mediterranean dune landscape, and the Torre di Manfria ("Manfria Tower").


Until the 1950s Gela's core economic activities were agriculture and sea-related. In 1960 the Italian oil company Eni chose Gela as the site of a large oil-based industrial plant that began operation in 1963 and closed down in 2014.

Twin towns

Gela is twinned with:


See also


  1. ^ "Superficie di Comuni Province e Regioni italiane al 9 ottobre 2011". Istat. Retrieved 16 March 2019.
  2. ^ "Popolazione Residente al 1° Gennaio 2018". Istat. Retrieved 16 March 2019.
  3. ^ Smith, William, ed. (1854–1857). "Gela". Dictionary of Greek and Roman Geography. London: John Murray.
  4. ^ Diodorus Siculus, XXII, 2,4.
  5. ^ Emanuele Zuppardo-Salvatore Piccolo, Terra Mater. Sulle Sponde del Gela Greco, Betania Editrice, Caltanissetta 2005, pgg. 162-163.
  6. ^ Division Livorno counterattack at 1943 Gela landing
  7. ^ 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
  8. ^ "Gela (CL)" (PDF). Servizio Meteorologico. Retrieved 18 May 2013.
  9. ^ "Tabella CLINO 1961-1990: Stazione 453 Gela" (in Italian). Servizio Meteorologico. Retrieved 18 May 2013.
  10. ^ "Gela: Record mensili dal 1965" (in Italian). Servizio Meteorologico dell’Aeronautica Militare. Retrieved 23 February 2016.
  11. ^ "Italy, where migration's front line and art's avant-garde meet". The Economist. 7 January 2016. Retrieved 11 January 2016.

External links

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Battle of Gela (1943)

The amphibious Battle of Gela was the opening engagement of the United States portion of the Allied Invasion of Sicily. United States Navy ships landed United States Army troops along the eastern end of the south coast of Sicily; and withstood attacks by Luftwaffe and Regia Aeronautica aircraft while defending the beachhead against German tanks and Italian tanks of the Livorno Division until the Army captured the Ponte Olivo Airfield for use by United States Army Air Forces planes. The battle convinced United States Army officers of the value of naval artillery support, and revealed problems coordinating air support from autonomous air forces during amphibious operations.

Birao language

Birao (Mbirao) is a Southeast Solomonic language of Guadalcanal.

Bosco Littorio

Bosco Littorio is a sandy area with dense vegetation on the Sicilian coast in the comune of Gela, containing the archaeological remains of the archaic emporium of Gela, which dates to the period between the 8th and 5th centuries BC.

European route E931

European route E 931 is a European B class road in Italy, connecting the city Mazara del Vallo – Gela.

Gel-e Espid

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Gela Painter

The Gela Painter was an Attic black-figure vase painter. His real name is unknown. His long career started around the turn of the 6th and 5th centuries BC. A majority of his works, consisting mainly of lekythoi were exported to West Greece. His work was strongly influenced by the newly developed red-figure style. His style is often careless, but his images are original. Especially his mythological and genre scenes are notable. Often, his compositions on smaller vases mirror those normally used on larger, more expensive, ones. On his shoulder ornaments, he replaced the conventional buds with leaves.

Gela language

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Gideon Gela-Mosby

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Greek baths of Gela

The Greek Baths of Gela are ancient baths which were discovered in 1957, near the Ospizio di Mendicità on via Europa, Capo Soprano, which date to the Hellenistic period. Like the rest of the city, the baths were demolished in 282 BC after the conquest of the city by the Akragantine tyrant Phintias.

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Juicy Couture

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List of tyrants of Syracuse

Syracuse (Gr. Συρακοῦσαι) was an ancient Greek city-state, located on the east coast of Sicily. The city was founded by settlers from Corinth in 734 or 733 BC, and was conquered by the Romans in 212 BC, after which it became the seat of Roman rule in Sicily. Throughout much of its history as an independent city, it was governed by a succession of tyrants, with only short periods of democracy and oligarchy. While Pindar addressed the Deinomenids as kings (basileus) in his odes, it is not clear that this (or any other title) was officially used by any of the tyrants until Agathocles adopted the title in 304.

Malango language

Malango is a Southeast Solomonic language of Guadalcanal.

Ponte Olivo Airfield

Ponte Olivo Airfield is an abandoned pre-World War II airport and later wartime military airfield in Sicily, 3 km north of Gela. Its last known use was by the United States Army Air Force Twelfth Air Force in 1944 during the Italian Campaign.

S.S.D. Città di Gela

S.S.D. Città di Gela, commonly known as just Gela, is an Italian association football club, based in Gela, Sicily.

Santa Cristina Gela

Santa Cristina Gela (Arberesh: Sëndahstina) is an Arbëreshë village in the Metropolitan City of Palermo in Sicily.

The village, along with Contessa Entellina and Piana degli Albanesi, is one of three Arberesh settlements in Sicily, where the Arberesh language is still spoken.

Southeast Solomonic languages

The family of Southeast Solomonic languages forms a branch of the Oceanic languages. It consists of some 26 languages covering the South East Solomon Islands, from the tip of Santa Isabel to Makira. The fact that there is little diversity amongst these languages, compared to groups of similar size in Melanesia, suggests that they dispersed in the relatively recent past. Bugotu is one of the most conservative languages.

Xhevdet Gela

Xhevdet Gela (born 14 November 1989) is a Finnish football player of Kosovian descent currently playing for HIFK.

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)[8][9][10]
Archaeological sites in Sicily
Province of Agrigento
Province of Caltanissetta
Province of Catania
Province of Enna
Province of Messina
Province of Palermo
Province of Ragusa
Province of Syracuse
Province of Trapani

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