Messina


Messina
Messina
—  Comune  —
Comune di Messina
A collage of Messina

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Coat of arms
Messina is located in Italy
Messina
Location of Messina in Italy
Coordinates: 38°11′N 15°33′E / 38.183°N 15.55°E / 38.183; 15.55
Country Italy
Region Sicily
Province Messina
Area
 - Total 211.2 km2 (81.5 sq mi)
Elevation 3 m (10 ft)
Population (May 2009[1])
 - Total 243,252
 - Density 1,151.8/km2 (2,983/sq mi)
Demonym Messinesi, Peloritani
Time zone CET (UTC+1)
 - Summer (DST) CEST (UTC+2)
Postal code 98100
Dialing code 090
Patron saint Madonna of the Letter
Saint day 3 June
Website Official website

Messina (Italian pronunciation: [mesˈsiːna] ( listen), Sicilian: Missina) is the third largest city on the island of Sicily, Italy and the capital of the province of Messina. It has a population of about 250,000 inhabitants in the city proper and about 650,000 in the province. It is located near the northeast corner of Sicily, at the Strait of Messina, just opposite Villa San Giovanni on the mainland.

The main economical resources of the city are: the port (commercial and military), provided with several shipyards; agriculture (including wine production and the cultivation of lemons, oranges, mandarin oranges and olives); tourism.

The city has been a Roman Catholic Archdiocese and Archimandrite seat since 1548 and is home to a locally important international fair.

Contents

History

Founded by Greek colonists in the 8th century BC, Messina was originally called Zancle, from the Greek: ζάγκλον meaning "scythe" because of the shape of its natural harbour (though a legend attributes the name to King Zanclus). A comune of its province, located at the southern entrance of the Strait of Messina, is to this day called 'Scaletta Zanclea'. In the early 5th century BC, Anaxilas of Rhegium renamed it Messene in honour of the Greek city Messene (Greek: Μεσσήνη). (See also List of traditional Greek place names.) The city was sacked in 397 BC by the Carthaginians and then reconquered by Dionysius I of Syracuse.

Frederick II age coins.

In 288 BC the Mamertines seized the city by treachery, killing all the men and taking the women as their wives. The city became a base from which they ravaged the countryside, leading to a conflict with the expanding regional empire of Syracuse. Hiero II, tyrant of Syracuse, defeated the Mamertines near Mylae on the Longanus River and besieged Messina. Carthage assisted the Mamertines because of a long-standing conflict with Syracuse over dominance in Sicily. When Hiero attacked a second time in 264 BC, the Mamertines petitioned the Roman Republic for an alliance, hoping for more reliable protection. Although initially reluctant to assist lest it encourage other mercenary groups to mutiny, Rome was unwilling to see Carthaginian power spread further over Sicily and encroach on Italy. Rome therefore entered into an alliance with the Mamertines. In 264 BC, Roman troops were deployed to Sicily, the first time a Roman army acted outside the Italian Peninsula.

At the end of the First Punic War it was a free city allied with Rome. In Roman times Messina, then known as Messana, had an important pharos (lighthouse). Messana was the base of Sextus Pompeius, during his war against Octavian.

After the fall of the Roman Empire, the city was successively ruled by [Goths]] from 476, then by the Byzantine Empire in 535, by the Arabs in 842, and in 1061 by the Norman brothers Robert Guiscard and Roger Guiscard (later count Roger I of Sicily). In 1189 the English King Richard I, ("The Lionheart") stopped at Messina en route to the Holy Land and briefly occupied the city after a dispute over the dowry of his sister, who had been married to William the Good, King of Sicily

Messina was most likely the harbour at which the Black Death entered Europe: the plague was brought by Genoese ships coming from Caffa in the Crimea. In 1548 St. Ignatius founded there the first Jesuit college of the world, which later gave birth to the Studium Generale (the current University of Messina).

An image of the 1908 Messina earthquake aftermath
Unexecuted Beaux-Arts plan for the reconstruction of the port, 1909

The Christian ships that won the Battle of Lepanto (1571) left from Messina: the Spanish author Miguel de Cervantes, who took part in the battle, recovered for some time in the Grand Hospital. The city reached the peak of its splendour in the early 17th century, under Spanish domination: at the time it was one of the ten greatest cities in Europe. In 1674 the city rebelled against the foreign garrison. It managed to remain independent for some time, thanks to the help of the French king Louis XIV, but in 1678, with the Peace of Nijmegen, it was reconquered by the Spaniards and sacked: the university, the senate and all the privileges of autonomy it had enjoyed since the Roman times were abolished. A massive fortress was built by the occupants and Messina decayed steadily. In 1743, 48,000 died of plague in Messina.[2] In 1783, an earthquake devastated much of the city, and it took decades to rebuild and rekindle the cultural life of Messina.

In 1847 it was one of the first cities in Italy where Risorgimento riots broke out. In 1848 it rebelled openly against the reigning Bourbons, but was heavily suppressed again. Only in 1860, after the Battle of Milazzo, the Garibaldine troops occupied the city. One of the main figures of the unification of Italy, Giuseppe Mazzini, was elected deputy at Messina in the general elections of 1866.

Another earthquake of less intensity damaged the city on November 16, 1894.

The city was almost entirely destroyed by an earthquake and associated tsunami on the morning of December 28, 1908, killing about 60,000 people and destroying most of the ancient architecture. The city was largely rebuilt in the following year, according to a more modern and rational plan. It incurred further damage from the massive Allied air bombardments of 1943, which caused thousands of deaths. Later, the city gained a Gold Medal for Military Valour and one for Civil Valour in memory of the event and the subsequent effort of reconstruction.

In June 1955, Messina was the location of the Messina Conference of Western European foreign ministers which led to the creation of the European Economic Community.[3]

Not well known to the community of railfans, Messina has a light rail system that was opened on April 3, 2003. This line is 7.7 kilometres (4.8 mi) and links the city's central railway station with the city centre and harbour. Low floor double-ended trams built by Alston Ferroviaria.

Climate

Climate data for Messina
Month Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Year
Average high °C (°F) 14
(57)
14
(57)
15
(59)
17
(63)
21
(70)
26
(79)
29
(84)
29
(84)
27
(81)
22
(72)
18
(64)
15
(59)
21
Daily mean °C (°F) 12
(54)
12
(54)
13
(55)
15
(59)
19
(66)
23
(73)
26
(79)
27
(81)
24
(75)
20
(68)
16
(61)
13
(55)
18
Average low °C (°F) 10
(50)
10
(50)
11
(52)
12
(54)
16
(61)
20
(68)
23
(73)
24
(75)
21
(70)
18
(64)
14
(57)
11
(52)
16
Precipitation cm (inches) 11
(4.3)
10
(3.9)
8
(3.1)
5
(2)
3
(1.2)
1
(0.4)
1
(0.4)
2
(0.8)
5
(2)
10
(3.9)
10
(3.9)
11
(4.3)
84
(33.1)
Source: Weatherbase[4]

Main sights

Night view of Messina Harbour with Calabria in the background.
Cathedral of Messina (2009)
Church of the Annunziata dei Catalani.

Churches and sanctuaries

  • The Cathedral (12th century), containing the remains of king Conrad, ruler of Germany and Sicily in the 13th century. The building had to be almost entirely rebuilt in 1919-1920, following the devastating 1908 earthquake, and again in 1943, after a fire triggered by Allied bombings. The original Norman structure can be recognised in the apsidal area. The façade has three late Gothic portals, the central of which probably dates back to the early 15th century. The architrave is decorated with a sculpture of Christ Among the Evangelists and various representations of men, animals and plants. The tympanum dates back to 1468. The interior is organised in a nave and two equally long aisles divided by files of 28 columns. Some decorative elements belong the original building, whereas the mosaics in the apse are reconstructions. Tombs of illustrious men besides Conrad IV, include those of Archbishops Palmer (died in 1195), Guidotto de Abbiate (14th century) and Antonio La Legname (16th century). Special interest is held by the Chapel of the Sacrament (late 16th century), with scenic decorations and 14th century mosaics. The bell tower holds one of the largest astronomical clocks in the world, built in 1933 by the Ungerer Company of Strasbourg. The belfry mechanically animated statues, which illustrate events from the civil and religious history of the city every day at noon, are a popular touristic attraction.
  • Annunziata dei Catalani (late 12th-13th century). Dating from the late Norman period, it was transformed in the 13th century when the nave was shortened and the façade added. It has a cylindrical apse and a high dome emerging from a high tambour. Noteworthy is the external decoration of the transept and the dome area, with a series of blind arches separated by small columns. It clearly reflects Arabic architectural influences.
  • Santa Maria degli Alemanni (early 13th century), which was formerly a chapel of Teutonic Knights. It is a rare example of pure Gothic architecture in Sicily, as is witnessed by the arched windows and shapely buttresses.
  • Sanctuary of Santa Maria del Carmelo (near the Courthouse) built in 1931, which contains a 17th-century statue of the Virgin Mary.
  • Sanctuary of Montevergine, where the incorrupt body of Saint Eustochia Smeralda Calafato is preserved.

Fountains

Porta Grazia (by Domenico Biundo and Antonio Amato)
  • The Fountain of Orion, located next to the Cathedral, built by Giovanni Angelo Montorsoli in 1547.
  • The Fountain of Neptune, looking towards the harbour, built by Montorsoli in 1557.
  • The Senatory Fountain (1619)
  • Quattro Fontane (The Four Fountains), though only two elements of the four-cornered complex survive today.

Other landmarks

  • The San Ranieri lighthouse (1555).
  • The Botanical Garden "Pietro Castelli" of the University of Messina.
  • Palazzo Calapaj, an example of 18th century Messinese architecture which survived to the 1908 earthquake.
  • Porta Grazia, 16th century gate of "real cittadella di Messina", a still existing fortress in the harbour
  • The Pylon, built in 1957 together with a twin located across the Strait of Messina, to carry a 220kV-overhead powerline bringing electric power to the island. At the time of their construction, the two electric pylons were the highest in the world. The powerline has later been replaced by an underwater cable, but the pylon still stands as a freely accessible tourist attraction.

Museums

Notable people

Literary references

Numerous writers set their works in Messina, including:

See also

Notes

External links


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Look at other dictionaries:

  • Messina — Messina …   Deutsch Wikipedia

  • Messina — Messina,   Name von geographischen Objekten:    1) Messina, Hauptstadt der Provinz Messina, Italien, im Nordosten Siziliens auf Küstenterrassen am Fuß des Peloritanischen Gebirges, 261 100 Einwohner; Erzbischofssitz; Universität (gegründet 1548) …   Universal-Lexikon

  • MESSINA — MESSINA, seaport in Sicily. Around the year 1171, benjamin of tudela found 200 (families of?) Jews in Messina. Between 1279 and 1282 the community received the famous kabbalist abraham abulafia , who gave instruction there to two disciples,… …   Encyclopedia of Judaism

  • Messīna [2] — Messīna, Hauptstadt der gleichnamigen ital. Provinz (s. oben), nach Palermo die bedeutendste Stadt Siziliens, zugleich einer der hervorragendsten Handelsplätze Italiens und wichtige Festung, liegt malerisch am Fuß des Peloritanischen Gebirges, an …   Meyers Großes Konversations-Lexikon

  • Messina — [mə sē′nə] 1. seaport in NE Sicily, on the Strait of Messina: pop. 233,000 2. Strait of strait between Sicily & Italy: 2 12 mi (3 19 km) wide; 20 mi (32 km) long …   English World dictionary

  • Messina [1] — Messina, 1) Provinz auf der Insel Sicilien, begreift den nordöstlichen Theil der Insel u. liegt am Ätna, der Meerenge von M. (zwischen Italien u. Sicilien, verbindet das Ionische Meer mit dem Tyrrhenischen, hat heftige Strömung gegen Süden, einen …   Pierer's Universal-Lexikon

  • Messina [2] — Messina, Antonello da M., s. Antonello …   Pierer's Universal-Lexikon

  • Messina [3] — Messina, ein aus Saragossa in Spanien stammendes Geschlecht, welches von dort nach Burgund, Italien, Tyrol u. zuletzt nach Baiern kam, wo es 1808 der Freiherrenklasse zugeschrieben wurde. Jetziger Chef ist: Freiherr Severin, geb. 1818; ist… …   Pierer's Universal-Lexikon

  • Messīna [1] — Messīna, ital. Provinz mit gleichnamiger Hauptstadt auf Sizilien, grenzt an das Tyrrhenische und Ionische Meer und die Provinzen Catania und Palermo und hat 3225 qkm (58,6 QM.) mit (1901) 543,809 Einw. (168 auf 1 qkm). Die Provinz, zu der die… …   Meyers Großes Konversations-Lexikon

  • Messina — Messīna, Hauptstadt der ital. Prov. M. auf Sizilien [Karte: Italien I, 7] (3226 qkm, 1905: 563.719 E.), an der Straße von M. (Faro di M.), (1901) 149.778 E., stark befestigt, Dom (1098 begonnen), Kirche Sta. Maddalena, Universität (1538… …   Kleines Konversations-Lexikon

  • Messina [2] — Messīna, Straße von (Faro di M.), Meerenge zwischen Süditalien und Sizilien, 30 km lg., 3,5 22 km br …   Kleines Konversations-Lexikon


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