Agira

Agira

Infobox CityIT
img_coa =Agira-Stemma.png official_name = Comune di Agira
region = Sicily
province = Enna (EN)
elevation_m = 650
area_total_km2 = 163.11
population_as_of = December 31, 2004
population_total = 8171
population_density_km2 = 51
timezone = CET, UTC+1
coordinates = coord|37|39|N|14|31|E|region:IT_type:city(8171)
frazioni =
telephone = 0935
postalcode = 94011
gentilic = Agirini
saint = St. Philip of Agira
day = July 2
mayor = Rosario Sanfilippo (since May 25, 2003)
website = [http://www.comune.agira.en.it www.comune.agira.en.it]

Agìra is a town in the province of Enna, Sicily (southern Italy). It is located in the mid-valley of the River Salso, 35 km from Enna. Until 1861 it was called San Filippo d'Argiriò, in honour of its saint, Filippo il Siriaco, or Philip of Agira.

History

Agira stands on the site of the ancient Sicel city [The "Princeton Encyclopedia of Classical Sites" asserts only that Agira is "a city of ancient but uncertain origins".] of "Agyrion", or "Agyrium", which 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, a native of the city, and erected various splendid buildings; no traces remain, as the modern city overlies the ancient one.

Diodorus Siculus 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.

The Romans called it "Agirium". Under their control it underwent a decline, as a result of the heavy taxation imposed on it. 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 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 sights

The main buildings of note are its numerous churches, most of which contain collections of art works. They include the Norman Chiesa Madre ("Mother Church") dedicated to Santa Maria Maggiore, the Norman church of Santa Margherita, which is the largest in the diocese, with thirteen altars, and which dates from the early 13th century (though it has been much changed since then), the church of St Filippo, which has three naves, and contains paintings by Olivo Sozzi, the 16th century church of Sant'Antonio da Padova, which also has three naves, the 16th-century church of Sant'Antonio Abate, containing fourteen small paintings of the Venetian school, and the church of San Salvatore, with Gothic bell-tower.

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

The modern town

The municipality of Agira has 9,004 inhabitants, with a population density of nowrap|55 inhabitants per square kilometre. It covers 163.11 km², and is 650 metres above sea-level.

Agira is 141 kilometres from Agrigento, 69 kilometres from Caltanissetta, 66 kilometres from Catania, 34 kilometres from Enna (to whose province it belongs), 162 kilometres from Messina, 184 kilometres from Palermo, 144 kilometres from Ragusa, 124 kilometres from Siracusa, and 291 kilometres from Trapani.

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

The Pozzillo artificial lake lies near the town in a eucalyptus wood, and provides an important 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 Erei Mountains, and the Mediterranean forest of the Vallone di Piano della Corte is scheduled to become another reserve. The area also contains sulphur springs.

There is a railway station south of the town.

The town has been twinned with the following:
*flagicon|Malta Żebbuġ, Malta

Notes

External links

* [http://sicilia.indettaglio.it/eng/comuni/en/agira/agira.html Agira] — from "La Sicilia in dettaglio — Sicily in full detail"
* [http://community.webshots.com/album/66056166lrjEmT Gallery of photographs of Agira]
* [http://icarus.umkc.edu/sandbox/perseus/pecs/page.95.a.php Richard Stillwell, ed. "Princeton Encyclopedia of Classical Sites", 1976:] "Agyrion (Agira), Sicily"


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