History of Sicily

From the Greek civilization to the mercy of the major European powers

In the 8th Century BC the first Greek settlers came to Sicily and established the beginning of a great history. After a long flowering Greek period, Sicily was conquered and exploited by the Romans, and after an Arabic period in the Middle Ages it was a playground for many different European royal families. Norman, German, French, Spaniards and Austrians alternately ruled the island in the south of Europe. In 1860 Garibaldi liberated the island, which voluntarily joined the Kingdom of Italy.

Greeks and Romans in Sicily

Originally populated by Sicels, Elymi and Phoenicians, the first Greek settlers reached Sicily in the 8th Century BC and founded numerous cities like Messina, Catania, Syracuse, Gela and Agrigento. A Greek high culture developed, into which were born the famous mathematician Archimedes and Pythagoras. Syracuse was one of the largest cities in Europe. With the rise of Carthage, Rome started to take part in the conflict and conquered Sicily in the first and second Punic War. The great natural resources and farmlands quickly made Sicily the granary of Rome, which exploited the island mercilessly. After the fall of Rome and several subsequent barbarian raids, Sicily was incorporated into the Byzantine Eastern Roman Empire.

Sicily during the Middle Ages

After independence from the Byzantine Empire the Arabs conquered Sicily in the 9th Century and brought a period of further economic prosperity and absolute tolerance. Due to internal inconsistencies of the ruling emirs, the Normans under Roger I. conquered the island and made Sicily a kingdom. When the last heir of the Norman King died in 1194, Sicily fell to the German house of Hohenstaufen, who lost the island to the House of Anjou in 1266. The French period in Sicily was short and bloody, ending with the Sicilian Vespers, a revolt which expelled the French. In 1302 Sicily fell to the Spanish house of Aragon. As a result, Spanish viceroys ruled the island. Marked by corruption, large estates and domestic difficulties Sicily then drifted into ever greater social and economic problems that held the island firmly in their hands.

Sicily from the modern era to today

Spanish rule of Sicily ended with the War of the Spanish Succession. The island became alternately part of the house of Savoy, the Austrian Hapsburgs, the Spanish Bourbons and Napoleon - but no one was able to solve the problems of Sicily. Giuseppe Garibaldi finally freed the island in 1860 and Sicily joined the newly formed Kingdom of Italy. After the Second World War, Sicily finally became an autonomous province of Italy and, due to modernisation measures in agriculture and industry, the social ills were slowly brought under control.

Forgot your login details?
Not registered yet?

Register with ZAINOO for free!

Please indicate your e-mail address!

You are not logged in!

To log in, just click on the “Login” button, on the top right-hand side of the screen, and enter your ZAINOO login data.

Not registered yet? Then become a member of our travel community for free and get numerous benefits:

  • Save and modify your tours
  • Rate sights
  • Leave tips and comments
Register here
Zainoo Italien

How do I plan my journey?

Choose your destination/your attractions

Use the map, search or navigation function to choose your desired destination/attraction and click on the “Add to journey” button.

My journey

Finalise your itinerary

My journey

Click on the “My journey” button and put the sights into the desired order with drag-and-drop. Select any additional information, take a last look at your route and let’s go.

Take your personal itinerary with you

You’ve completed your itinerary – what’s next? Simply print, download, send it by e-mail or download an e-book for your mobile phone and you are ready for your next trip.


ZAINOO registered users can save their itineraries and extend or re-use them later at any time.

Register now!

Zainoo is and will remain free.

My journey

No personal destinations or attractions were added to your journey!

No idea how to do it? You will find exact instructions for your individual travel planning under the button „Plan a journey“.

History of Sicily
The destination/sight was added to your journey!