Agira (Italian pronunciation: [aˈdʒiːra]; Sicilian: Aggira, Ancient Greek: Ἀγύριον) is a town and comune in the province of Enna, Sicily (southern Italy). It is located in the mid-valley of the River Salso, 35 kilometres (22 miles) from Enna. Until 1861 it was called San Filippo d'Argiriò, in honour of its saint Philip of Agira.

Agira
Comune di Agira
Veduta panoramica del paese di Agira.jpg
Location of Agira
Agira is located in Italy
Agira
Agira
Location of Agira in Italy
Agira is located in Sicily
Agira
Agira
Agira (Sicily)
Coordinates: 37°39′N 14°31′E / 37.650°N 14.517°E / 37.650; 14.517Coordinates: 37°39′N 14°31′E / 37.650°N 14.517°E / 37.650; 14.517
CountryItaly
RegionSicily
ProvinceEnna (EN)
Government
 • MayorMaria Gaetana Greco
Area
 • Total163.11 km2 (62.98 sq mi)
Elevation
650 m (2,130 ft)
Population
 (30 November 2017)[2]
 • Total8,230
 • Density50/km2 (130/sq mi)
DemonymAgirini
Time zoneUTC+1 (CET)
 • Summer (DST)UTC+2 (CEST)
Postal code
94011
Dialing code0935
Patron saintSt. Philip of Agira
Saint dayJuly 2
WebsiteOfficial website

The modern city overlies the ancient one of which few traces remain.

HistoryEdit

Agira stands on the site of the ancient Sicel city[3] of Agyrion (Ancient Greek: Ἀγύριον - Agyrion), or Agyrium, and Agyrina,[4]

On the top of the mountain where the castle stands, excavations have brought to light buildings dated between the sixth and fourth centuries BC with the presence of polychrome plaster and remains of the mint for coins.

Diodorus Siculus was born here[5] and credits Heracles with the foundation of sacred precincts of Iolaus and of Geryon, and the creation of a nearby lake. In the mid-fifth century, Agyrium was the first Sicilian city to mint bronze coinage in the Greek fashion.

In the 4th c. BC it was ruled by tyrants, one of whom, Agyris, was the most powerful ruler in the centre of Sicily. He was a contemporary of Dionysius the Elder, and with him successfully resisted the Carthaginian forces led by Mago when they invaded the territory of Agyrium in 392 BC. Agira was not colonised by the Greeks until the Corinthian general Timoleon drove out the last tyrant in 339 BC, settled 10,000 Greeks, according to Diodorus Siculus, and erected various splendid buildings.[6]

In around 287 BC Phintias of Agrigentum conquered the city, but after he had shown himself a bloodthirsty murderer, Agyrion was the first city to revolt after which he changed his ways to a more humane rule.[7]

The Romans called it Agyrium. Cicero described it thus:[8]

“And first be briefed on the illustrious and faithful people of Agyrium. Agyrium is among the first as an honest city in Sicily, whose men were, before this commissioner came, rich and among the best farmers."

Under Roman control it underwent a decline like other Sicilian cities as a result of the misrule of Verres and the heavy taxation imposed on it.

One of the only two Greek inscriptions[9] from Agyrium marks the final resting-place of a "Diodorus the son of Apollonius."

In 1063, it was taken by the Normans under Count Roger I of Sicily (Ruggero in Italian), who defeated the Saracens near the river Salso. Agira is mentioned by Muhammad al-Idrisi by the name Shanta Fīlibb (i.e., Saint Philip of Agira), written as شنت فيلب in the Arabic script.

Agira passed through the hands of the Hohenstaufen, the Angevines and Aragonese, and in about 1400 it became state property of Sicily. Over the years the town has been influenced by Spanish and Jewish arrivals, both leaving their architectural mark, the latter a synagogue.

Main sightsEdit

The town has a number of notable churches:

There is also an Arab–Byzantine castle, later rebuilt by the Hohenstaufen, of which two towers still stand.

The Pozzillo artificial lake lies near the town in a eucalyptus wood, and provides a habitat for a large variety of birds, and a way-stage for migrators. Another reserve – the Riserva di Piano della Corte – has been created in the Erean Mountains, and the Mediterranean forest of the Vallone di Piano della Corte is scheduled to become another reserve. The area also contains sulphur springs.

EconomyEdit

The town is a centre of agriculture: productions include cereals, almonds, olives, and grapes. The large areas of pasture also make possible the breeding of cattle, sheep, and horses.

TransportationEdit

There is a railway station south of the town.

International relationsEdit

Agira is twinned with:

ReferencesEdit

  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. ^ The Princeton Encyclopædia of Classical Sites asserts only that Agira is "a city of ancient but uncertain origins".
  4. ^ Stephanus of Byzantium, Ethnica,§ A23.19
  5. ^ Diod. History 1.4.4
  6. ^   One or more of the preceding sentences incorporates text from a publication now in the public domainChisholm, Hugh, ed. (1911). "Agira". Encyclopædia Britannica. Vol. 1 (11th ed.). Cambridge University Press. p. 376.
  7. ^ Diod. XXII 2.4
  8. ^ Cic. III, 67
  9. ^ IG XIV.588

External linksEdit