Catania was founded as Greek colony in 729 BC and continued to evolve under the Roman government in the following centuries after 263 BC. There are still many monuments preserved from the Greek but mostly from the Roman period.
In 535, after the fall of the Roman Empire and a period under Ostrogoth rule, Catania was reconquered by the Eastern Roman Empire and remained under the rule of the Eastern Roman Empire until the 9th century. (few churches-chapels exists until now).
Though there are no signs of its presence visible in Catania today, Catania was shortly under the Islamic emirate of Sicily, until 1072, at which point the city fell to the Normans.
In 1194–1197, the city was sacked by German soldiers after the conquest of the island by emperor Henry VI. In 1232 it rebelled to the former’s son, Frederick II, who later built a massive castle, Castello Ursino and also made Catania a royal city, ending the dominance of the bishops. Catania was one of the main centres of the Sicilian Vespers revolt (1282) against the French Anjou dynasty, and was the seat of the coronation of the new Aragonese king of Sicily, Peter I. In the 14th century, it gained importance as it was chosen by the Aragonese as a Parliament and Royal seat. Here, in 1347, a peace treaty was signed, ending the long War of the Vesper between Aragonese and Anjou. Catania lost its capital role when, in the early 15th century, Sicily was turned into a province of the larger Kingdom of Aragon, but kept some of its autonomy and privileges.
In 1669, the city’s surroundings suffered a great deal of damage from an eruption of Mount Etna. The city itself was largely saved by its walls that diverted most of the lava into the port. The eruption was so large that the diverted lava shifted the coast by 500-2000mt.
Shorty thereafter, in 1693, the city was completely destroyed by a disastrous earthquake and its aftershocks. The city was then rebuilt in the Baroque architecture that characterizes the city you see today.
Today, with about 500,000 inhabitants, Catania is the 10th largest city in Italy and the second largest in Sicily. It’s unique not only for the history but also for it’s nightlife and two amazing outdoor markets. Furthermore, Catania has, a part of Rome, the largest urban archeological park in Italy. It means that you can find new buildings mixed with the ancient ones.