Geraci Siculo

The historic centre we find in Geraci Siculo (Siculo was added in 1863) today has origin from the Greek-Byzantine period. But traces of earlier settlements have been dated back from the Copper-age (3500-3000 BC). Since then people of Greek origin have settled also in this part of the Madonie mountains in the 6th century BC. They named the place Jerax (Greek for vulture) from which the name of the village probably has appeared. From traces it looks like already back in the 3rd century BC Geraci was a properous village. After the Greek-Byzantine period Sicily was under Arabic dominion from around 840 AC and Geraci still had an important role as a mercant village but also a main role as a stategic post for control of this part of the Madonie. The village became shaped in a typical Arabic way with narrow streets and small lanes.
Geraci kept the strategic role under the Norman dominion from 1061 where the Normans conquered Sicily and in 1063 the county was handed over to Knight Serleone who was a nephew of Count Ruggero I. In 1242 the county went to the Ventimiglia-family who had origins in Liguria in the North of Italy. During time The Ventimiglias became owners of a lot of land around Geraci but the village kept the main position in the area. Of the castle located south in the village remains only ruins. The castle was build already in the Greek-Byzantine period, rebuilt and redecorated by the Saracens for in the end to become residence for the Ventimiglias who owned the village until 1812 where feudalism was abolished in Sicily.
However, from the 14th century to the 17th century Geraci experienced great deveploments conserning economics, social and politic matters. The village was in a way town-state with local administration such as a courthouse and a mint workshop where the coins of the county was made.
But the defeat reached Geraci when the Ventimiglias relocated to Castelbuono in 1454 and removed the administration. The prosperous deveploment stopped and from then the village went into decline which even got worse from the 18th century. Nowadays it is a picturesque and quiet village.

Even the village is small and quiet there are a lot of things to see: the castle ruins, quit a few churches, the narrow streets, a museum and fountains.
As mentioned previously Geraci is famous for the beautiful and healthy drinking water. South in the village there is a big fountain with 2 taps at each side of a 20 m (60 feet) long trough (probably for watering the animals and travellers by horses). The trough was made on order by Simone Ventimiglia and the fontain is decorated with the Norman device and on the trough is the Ventimiglia device. The fountain has also today an important function as water supply especially to farmhouses where the water supply normally is from a well or collection of the rain in the rainy periods.
'Chiesa Madre': The Mother church - located in the heart of Geraci built in the 15th century with a beautiful front wall in ashlar and a door i style like Gotic. Inside are works of Gagini and in the crypt you find sacred pieces of art donated by the Ventimiglias.
Just outside the village you find the previous convent for the Cappuccini-order. The convent is built in 1689 by order from the marquis of Geraci. The building is shaped like a horseshoe and is very big. Today it is a museum for the area and the church from the 19th century is a meeting hall. In the monkcells are exhibitions where you can get an idea of the dayly life of Geraci and the Madonie.

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The Cappuccini convent
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Chapel for the castle

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