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Region and Culture

Agropoli's History

Written by (admin), Saturday, April 21, 2012 2:20:00 PM

Last updated Thursday, May 24, 2012 12:57:11 PM

Agropoli (city placed at the top) with its surroundings stands in a place that has been inhabited since the earliest times, as is proved by the late bronze age finds (11th-10th centuries BC) and by Greek archaic finds, that were unearthed during archaeological digging on the south-east side of the Aragonese Castle. In the early 4th century BC, Agropoli's territory was under the control of Paestum and the Lucanians, who settled there in self-sufficient farmsteads. These farm tombs have been traced back to places like Madonna del Carmine, Moio and Contrada Vecchia. It was here that a very particular tomb was discovered of a room with its walls painted of a scene of a warrior's departure and ritual burial rites. It is now displayed in the section of the huge collection of Lucanian tombs paintings at the National Archaeological Museum of Paestum. In Roman times, people lived on the waterfront in the district called San Marco and used the mouth of the river Testene for contacts and trades. In the area a marble Roman sarcophagus was found and is now exhibited in the premises of the Cirota palace. During the 5th century, the people moved to the top of the promontory, because of the high cliffs that hung over the sea which created a protected barrier from in trades. They fortified the slopes and the surroundings and gave it the name Acropolis. This safer and protected centre soon had its bishop's palace and became the most important town of the remaining Byzantine possessions in western Lucania. From 882 to 915 Agropoli was under control of the Saracens; here they set up a ribàt (stronghold), wherefrom they raided and plundered the nearby villages and terrorized the people. Towards the end of the millennium, the town was back under the jurisdiction of the bishops, who had their head quarters in Capaccio for a long time. Until the early 15th century, Agropoli was under their protection, until 1412 when it was ceded to King Ladislao of Dures (1386-1414) by Pope Gregory XII, as part of some war debts; later King Alphonse of Aragon donated the town to Giovanni Sanseverino, count of Marsico and baron of Cilento, which kept control of Agropoli with ups and downs until 1552, when prince Ferrante, being accused of betrayal, had to give up all his possessions. Since that time, the town was ruled by a number of different families until it fell into the hands of the Sanfelice family, the Dukes of Laureana (1660), who ruled the town until 1806, when feudality was abolished. Only in 1800 did the town begin to expand beyond its medieval walls; therefore, its historical centre and most of its defensive walls still remain, as its gate with the Dukes Delli Monte-Sanfelice's coat of arms, that was once placed at the castle's entrance. The Byzantine castle stands on the top of the promontory and it can still be seen today as it was after the Angevin-Aragonese additional works. To the south and west of today's touristic port stand the Aragonese coast towers of St. Mark and St. Francis (the latter rises like a sentry next to the namesake convent). In 1922 the lighthouse was built on the top of the large Palo cave.

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