Messina, the third largest city in Sicily, is located in the northeast of the island on the Strait of Messina. The port city currently has more than 227.000 inhabitants and almost 650.000 people live in its metropolitan region. Because of its proximity to mainland Italy, Messina is known as the “Gate of Sicily”.
The Strait of Messina
The Strait of Messina - Villa San Giovanni in Calabria
Messina - some history
Greek settlers founded the city around 2.800 years ago. The city's early history was marked by raids and looting. Since the end of the First Punic War (241 BC) Messina was allied with Rome as a free city. The city developed into an important trading center because of its strategic location. Messina was conquered and ruled successively by Arabs, Normans, Staufers and Spaniards after the Roman era.
The severe earthquake of 1783 and the tidal wave that followed devastated a large part of the city. Most of the buildings, including the cathedral and the one and a half kilometers long Pallazata on the harbor promenade, were destroyed. The Pallazata was an architectural masterpiece. It gave the buildings behind it a uniform, palatial facade. It was renewed at the beginning of the 19th century. A hundred years later, Messina was badly hit again by an earthquake and tsunami. More than 60.000 people lost their lives in this natural disaster. After being rebuilt, Messina was destroyed one last time during World War II. Allied bombers carried out massive air raids on the city in 1943.
Messina - business location, administrative center and university town
The port city is Sicily's commercial center. The chemical industry, metal processing, food industry and shipyards dominate the industrial sector. Messina is the ferry port as well as the starting point for the highways and railway lines in Sicily.
Shipyards in Messina
Shipyards in Messina
Messina belongs to the autonomous region of Sicily. The city is the administrative seat of one of nine provinces and the three metropolitan cities of Sicily. At the same time, the city has one of the four universities in Sicily, the Università degli Studi di Messina. The university was founded in 1548. More than 23.000 students (as of 2017) are enrolled in eleven faculties.
Messina - the regional administration on Corso Cavour
Visit Messina by cruise ship
In 2019, the year before the start of the Corona crisis, more than 160 calls by cruise ships were reported in Messina. The ships come mainly because of Messina's proximity to the Etna volcano and the small Sicilian town Taormina. Its picturesque old town, the ancient Teatro Greco and the Gulf of Giardini-Naxos are among the island's favorite tourist destinations. Guests who shy away from the bus or train journey to Taormina, 50 kilometers away, spend their day in Messina. Under Messina sightseeing let's name the sights of the city that we consider important.
Update March 2021