Megalithic Walls of Cefalù

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The megalithic walls of Cefalù are the ancient defensive fortifications of the city, named for the imposing size of the blocks with which they were built. Some parts of these walls can be seen today in the rocks found in the area of the marina, between Porta Pescara, the bastion of Capo Marchiafava, the Postierla and Capo Sant’Antonio.

The megalithic walls of Cefalù: history, architecture and origin of the name

The megalithic walls of Cefalù are the ancient defensive fortifications of the Greek polis of Kephaloidon, the first nucleus of the city. They are called “megalithic” or even “cyclopean” because of the size of the blocks used. In fact, the walls are about six meters high and were built using the dry-stone technique, superimposing blocks three meters thick. The construction of the megalithic walls of Cefalù dates back to the period between the fourth and fifth centuries BC. After the 16th century the walls began to be dismantled in order to use the blocks for the construction of houses. There were two different lines of fortifications. The first, the lower one, protected the city from both pirate raids and storm surges caused by the Grecale, Levante and Maestrale winds. A second fortified line ran along the slopes of the Rocca and protected the castle of Cefalù.

The ancient gates 

Along the megalithic walls of Cefalù, at least until the 16th century, there were four different gates. The only one that still exists today is Porta Marina, although its appearance was changed in the 16th century. Of the others, two opened to the south: Porta Ossuna, located in what is now Piazza Cristoforo Colombo, and Porta Terra, the remains of which are partially visible and incorporated into the Clock Tower in Piazza Garibaldi. The last was the Giudecca Gate and was located to the east, in the area where the Jewish quarter was located. In addition to the four gates, there was also a Postierla, a small gate used by the inhabitants of Cefalù to reach a freshwater spring near the sea. The remains of the megalithic walls of Cefalù can be admired during a walk in the area of Piazza Marina.

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