Halaesa was an ancient city of Sicily, situated near the north coast of the island. The city was of Siculian origin; in 403 BC the tyrant Archonides of Herbita, having concluded peace with Dionysius I of Syracuse, gave the northern part of his territory to the Sicilians as well as to mercenaries and others who had helped him during the war. He named it Halaesa, to which the epithet Archonidea was frequently added for the purpose of distinction. Others attributed the foundation of the city erroneously to the Carthaginians.
It quickly rose to prosperity through maritime commerce. At the start of the First Punic War it was one of the first of the Sicilian cities to submit to the Romans to whose alliance it was always faithful. It was doubtless to this conduct and to the services that it was able to render to the Romans during their wars in Sicily that it was awarded the status of civitas libera ac immunis which gave it the privilege of retaining its own laws and independence, exempt from all taxation, an advantage enjoyed by only five cities of Sicily. In consequence of this advantageous position it rose rapidly in wealth and prosperity and became one of the most flourishing cities of Sicily.
The city appears to have subsequently declined, and had sunk in the time of Augustus to the condition of an ordinary municipal town, but was still one of the few places on the north coast of Sicily which Strabo deemed worthy of mention.
The site has been partially excavated starting in 2017. The agora and theatre are among the monuments so far been brought to light. Portions of the aqueduct can be seen and fragments of statues, as well as coins and inscriptions, have been frequently discovered on the spot.References:
Roman Walls of Lugo are an exceptional architectural, archaeological and constructive legacy of Roman engineering, dating from the 3rd and 4th centuries AD. The Walls are built of internal and external stone facings of slate with some granite, with a core filling of a conglomerate of slate slabs and worked stone pieces from Roman buildings, interlocked with lime mortar.
Their total length of 2117 m in the shape of an oblong rectangle occupies an area of 1.68 ha. Their height varies between 8 and 10 m, with a width of 4.2 m, reaching 7 m in some specific points. The walls still contain 85 external towers, 10 gates (five of which are original and five that were opened in modern times), four staircases and two ramps providing access to the walkway along the top of the walls, one of which is internal and the other external. Each tower contained access stairs leading from the intervallum to the wall walk of town wall, of which a total of 21 have been discovered to date.
The defences of Lugo are the most complete and best preserved example of Roman military architecture in the Western Roman Empire.
Despite the renovation work carried out, the walls conserve their original layout and the construction features associated with their defensive purpose, with walls, battlements, towers, fortifications, both modern and original gates and stairways, and a moat.
Since they were built, the walls have defined the layout and growth of the city, which was declared a Historical-Artistic Ensemble in 1973, forming a part of it and becoming an emblematic structure that can be freely accessed to walk along. The local inhabitants and visitors alike have used them as an area for enjoyment and as a part of urban life for centuries.
The fortifications were added to UNESCO"s World Heritage List in late 2000 and are a popular tourist attraction.