Medieval town of Gerace
Gerace is one of the most interesting and well preserved historical centers in Calabria, with its numerous ancient churches set in a stunning and evocative landscape, along the north-eastern border of the Aspromonte National Park, of which is one of the Gates of access.
Gerace, with its breathtaking view on the Ionian sea, was built on an overhanging rocky crag, approximately 500 m above sea level. The site has been inhabited since prehistoric times, like is confirmed by the numerous archaeological finds and by the pre-Hellenic necropolises discovered in the vicinity of the town; the town was founded during the VIII-IX century AD, probably by the inhabitants of the nearby Greek town of Locri Epizephiri, who moved inland towards the hills after the coastal plain turned into a swamp and also to find refuge from Saracen raids.
The original urban layout of Gerace, well preserved, is that of a Byzantine military settlement for defensive purposes, with narrow alleys and stairs, with boundary walls around the so-called “Upper town”, which is the oldest part and culminates in the Baglio district, opposite the castle, built in the most inaccessible part of the town. Along the walls there were 12 gates providing access into the town, some of which are still visible, and beyond the boundary wall there are two suburbs, called Borgo Maggiore and Borghetto, built in a later period.
The tour to the historic center of Gerace is always a surprise for the visitors, thanks to the unexpected beauty of places where time seems to have stood still, adventuring in hidden alleys and discovering noble palaces with interesting architectural features and Byzantine and Norman churches really well preserved.
Starting from Borgo Maggiore, our route goes from Varvara and, through Borghetto, reaches the panoramic viewpoint called Bombarde; from here, we’ll continue along the route that runs through the heart of the Upper Town, with stops at the impressive Norman Cathedral and at the beautiful square of the Three Churches, until we get to the castle, with its stunning views of the Ionian Sea on one side and on the tops of Aspromonte on the other side.
Already selected among the Most Beautiful Villages in Italy, in 2015 Gerace was also awarded by Touring Club with the prestigious “Orange Flag”.
|Starting location||Gerace, Varvàra Gate|
|Arrival location||Gerace, medieval castle|
|Difference in altitude||Around 100 m|
|Minimum altitude||Varvàra Gate, entrance of “Borgo Maggiore”|
|Maximum altitude||480 m above sea level (castle)|
|Time||Around 3 hours, with stop for visiting the Cathedral|
|Periods of accessibility||Always|