Guide to Palazzolo Acreide
A town where history, tradition and modern life coexist in a wonderful natural setting between the gorges formed by rivers Anapo and Tellaro. A visit to Palazzolo Acreide combines the beauty of the archeological Greek heritage with fine examples of Baroque architecture, the religious celebrations in honor of San Sebastiano e San Paolo with the colourful Carnival parade, the delicious tastes and smells of the Hiblean mountain food.
Palazzolo Acreide raises on hills overlooking a large part of the South-East of Sicily down to the cost.
The area was inhabited since prehistoric times and around 664-663 B.C., Corinthian settlers founded Akrai which was politically subordinated to Siracusa, but had administrative autonomy. Together with Kasmenai first, and then also with Kamarina, it was one of the most important geopolitical and military strategic places to control the territory of Siracusa
The time of its splendor came with Heron II (275-215 B.C.), after the conquest of Siracusa (211 B.C.) with the Romans it became "civitas stipendiaria", forced to pay a fixed taxation to Rome. We have little information about the Byzantine times and it is believed that Akrai was then destroyed during the Arab domination. The ancient city was lost for centuries and the ruins were first identified during the sixteenth century and then brought to light in the early nineteenth century. Currently it is possible to visit these ruins in the archeological area, Parco Archeologico di Akrai, with the theatre, the latomie, the bouleuterion the meeting place for the senate, the agora and Aphrodite's temple.
The 1963 earthquake destroyed the medieval town, including the Norman castle that was in the area which is still called Castelvecchio. Palazzolo Acreide was completely destroyed and then rebuilt in the same location in the baroque style that changed the face of the South-East of Sicily. The beauty of the baroque architecture characterises the city centre which is now a World Heritage site. Of particular interest the cathedral of Saint Niccolo, the church of Saint Paul, the church of Saint Sebastian, Palazzo Zocco and Palazzo Judica Cafici.
The Casa Museo Antonio Uccello is worth a visit, the museum shows the collection of the nineteenth and early twentieth century Sicilian popular culture of the anthropologist Uccello. The town is also famous for the local festivities, especially Saint Paul procession, on the 25th of January and on the 29th of June, and Saint Sebastian, on the 20 of January and the 10th of August. The traditional Carnival celebrations of Palazzolo Acreide, with the procession of allegorical carts, are one of the oldest in Sicily, in this occasion there are various food festivals of traditional food like sausages, macaroni, cavatieddi and cannoli.
In the outskirt of Palazzolo Acreide you can visit the Valle dell'Anapo and the archeological site of Pantalica, once the heart of the ancient kingdom of Hybla.