Palazzolo Acreide is located at the foot of the Iblei Mountains, a stone's throw from the Anapo River, just 44 km from Syracuse. The origins of the village are very ancient and have their roots in the far 664 BC when it was founded as the first colony of Syracuse, under the name of Akrai: the period of maximum development was with Hieron II between 275 and 215 BC until, with the fall of Syracuse in 211 BC, the cityà passò under the rule of Rome. The slow decline of Akrai coincided with the devastation brought by the Arabs in 827 until the rebirth of the city; with the Normans, with whom Akrai was equipped with a castle, which later became Palazzo Baronale, of which only ghostly ruins remain.
The old town has a curious triangular shape and houses elegant noble palaces, museums and beautiful churches all to be discovered. Strolling through its streets, you would not say that it is a cityà rebuilt after the earthquake of 1693: no wonder that Palazzolo Acreide has been declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
The Sicilian village has hosted throughout its history many noble families who have lived in buildings still visible today in all their splendor, in particular the beautiful Palazzo Judica whose masks strike the masks with their sneers a bit’ sinister.
Judica Palace - Photo e-borghi
The heart of Palazzolo Acreide è the luminous Piazza del Popolo: here stands the classical-style Town Hall with Art Nouveau elements such as the portal and wrought iron gratings and the Church of San Sebastiano. The baroque facade of the Diamanti è introduced by a staircase as impressive as scenic, a must in the Val di Noto: the interior of the building è a blaze of eighteenth-century stuccoes and works of art such as the painting of Santa Margherita da Cortona and an icon of the Virgin escaped the earthquake of 1693.
Town Hall - Photo e-borghi
Church of San Sebastiano - Photo of e-borghi
From the ancient Akrai to the Feast of St. Paul
Palazzolo Acreide è a very lively village culturally and the credit also goes to the poet Antonino Uccello, who spent the last 8 years of his life here and thanks to him a House-Museum was built with the aim of enhancing the rural culture of the area. In the rustic rooms faithfully reconstructed are exposed objects of domestic life, Sicilian puppets, cribs and ceramics of Caltagirone.
Pupi siciliani - Photo of e-borghi
Othermore interesting è the Museum of Travellers in Sicily where, through documents, travel diaries and maps, you can get to know this beautiful island through the eyes of the travellers themselves.
To know and touch the moreù history; ancient of Palazzolo Acreide, just reach the archaeological area of ancient Akrai, on the top of Mount Acremonte. The Greek è Theatre; the monument that captures the most attention, despite its small size: it probably dates back to II B.C. and was the heart of the ancient cityà, enlivening it with suggestive shows thanks to its exceptional acoustics.
Akrai Theatre - Photo e-borghi
Not far from the theatre you can admire the remains of the Temple of Aphrodite of the 6th BC, of which only a few blocks of stone and the Latomie. They are stone quarries used as prisons or tombs and two of them hide a real treasure: in the Intagliata and in the Latomie. They are stone quarries used as prisons or tombs and two of them hide a real treasure: in the Intagliata and the Intagliatella there are bas-reliefs celebrating ancient heroes with scenes of sacrifices and banquets.
The real jewels of the archaeological park are forò the Santoni: they are twelve large bas-reliefs dating back to the period between IV and III BC and dedicated to the goddess Cybele, much venerated by the ancient inhabitants of Akrai. Visitors can easily distinguish the profile of the goddess sitting on a throne, with two lions at her feet: it is thought that these decorations were painted and embellished with precious metals offered by the faithful.
Those who are in Palazzolo Acreide at the end of June will not be able to attend the Feast of St. Paul, declared an Immaterial Heritage of Humanity; during the three days of the feast, the cityà it comes alive thanks to the processions of the Tammurinari, the Sciuta della Vara or the procession of the saint and the presentation of naked children in search of protection. On the occasion of the Feast of St. Paul è it is a must to taste the typical sweets called cuddurre, or doughnuts decorated with red bows and snakes of pasta.
Basilica of St Paul - Photo of e-borghi