Located near the Regional Archaeological Museum, the Acropolis of Gela is one of the most important archaeological sites in Sicily. The area was already occupied in prehistoric times by indigenous settlements dating from between the 4th and 2nd millennia BC. After a period of neglect, this site was occupied again around the 8th century BC by a small settlement prior to the founding of Gela, a proto-colony which had been given the name of Lindioi, as reported by historians Thucydides and Herodotus. Lindioi was therefore a first outpost-emporium that paved the way to the foundation of Gela by the Rhodians led by Antiphemus and the Cretans led by Entimus.
In the first half of the 8th century BC, some buildings were built in this area, such as a sacellum dedicated to Athena Lindia, the patron goddess of the city, whose remains were then incorporated into the foundations of a second temple built during the 6th century BC, which is still dedicated to Athena.
It was in the 5th century BC that the acropolis underwent its greatest transformation. Under the Deinomenids, tyrants of the city, an important project of monumentalization was started through the construction of imposing buildings. In 480 BC, following the victory of the Greeks over the Carthaginians in the Great Battle of Himera, the tyrant Hieron of Gela decided to build a new temple dedicated to Athena, of which only one column remains today. The sacred building, with a peristasis of 6 x 12 columns, was adorned with marble elements imported from the Cyclades, decorated with polychrome motifs. The other buildings in the area were also magnificently enriched with architectural elements, such as equestrian acroteria and terracotta antefixes.
The acropolis, as proven by some layers of rubble, was destroyed in 405 BC after the city was looted by the Carthaginians led by Himilko. A stoa (market) was installed by reusing materials and remains of the ancient temples, between the end of the 5th and the first half of the 4th century BC, which can still be seen in the the well-preserved structures located on the north side.Following the refoundation of Gela (339 BC) by Timoleon on the west side of the hill, the area of the acropolis was definitively abandoned. There were only a few columns left from the ancient primeval site , of which historical traces remain in the tales by Al-Idrisi (12th century AD) and Guido delle Colonne (13th century AD).References:
The Church of Saint Demetrius, or Hagios Demetrios, is the main sanctuary dedicated to Saint Demetrius, the patron saint of Thessaloniki. It is part of the site Palaeochristian and Byzantine Monuments of Thessaloniki on the list of World Heritage Sites by UNESCO since 1988.
The first church on the spot was constructed in the early 4th century AD, replacing a Roman bath. A century later, a prefect named Leontios replaced the small oratory with a larger, three-aisled basilica. Repeatedly gutted by fires, the church eventually was reconstructed as a five-aisled basilica in 629–634. This was the surviving form of the church much as it is today. The most important shrine in the city, it was probably larger than the local cathedral. The historic location of the latter is now unknown.
The church had an unusual shrine called the ciborium, a hexagonal, roofed structure at one side of the nave. It was made of or covered with silver. The structure had doors and inside was a couch or bed. Unusually, it did not hold any physical relics of the saint. The ciborium seems to have been a symbolic tomb. It was rebuilt at least once.
The basilica is famous for six extant mosaic panels, dated to the period between the latest reconstruction and the inauguration of the Byzantine Iconoclasm in 730. These mosaics depict St. Demetrius with officials responsible for the restoration of the church (called the founders, ktetors) and with children. An inscription below one of the images glorifies heaven for saving the people of Thessalonica from a pagan Slavic raid in 615.
Thessaloniki became part of the Ottoman Empire in 1430. About 60 years later, during the reign of Bayezid II, the church was converted into a mosque, known as the Kasımiye Camii after the local Ottoman mayor, Cezeri Kasım Pasha. The symbolic tomb however was kept open for Christian veneration. Other magnificent mosaics, recorded as covering the church interior, were lost either during the four centuries when it functioned as a mosque (1493–1912) or in the Great Thessaloniki Fire of 1917 that destroyed much of the city. It also destroyed the roof and upper walls of the church. Black-and-white photographs and good watercolour versions give an idea of the early Byzantine craftsmanship lost during the fire.
Following the Great Fire of 1917, it took decades to restore the church. Tombstones from the city"s Jewish cemetery - destroyed by the Greek and Nazi German authorities - were used as building materials in these restoration efforts in the 1940s. Archeological excavations conducted in the 1930s and 1940s revealed interesting artifacts that may be seen in a museum situated inside the church"s crypt. The excavations also uncovered the ruins of a Roman bath, where St. Demetrius was said to have been held prisoner and executed. A Roman well was also discovered. Scholars believe this is where soldiers dropped the body of St. Demetrius after his execution. After restoration, the church was reconsecrated in 1949.