Basilica of Santa Maria della Roccella. Borgia. Italy
Publisher: Cities Heirs of Byzantium Non Profit Association ACEB
Date: March 2017
Duration: 0 hours 13 minutes
The vocal beauty of this church has been heard through the centuries and also through the descriptions of the many travelers who visited these places, which represented one of the stages of the Grand Tour (an integral part of the aristocratic education in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries).
The history of the settlement dates back to the time of ancient Greece. The Greeks called this city Skylletion (references to it were already made in 6th century BC), while in Roman times it was called Schilacium or Scolacium.
Old authors, such as Strabone and Pliny, attributed the foundation of the Greek city to Menestown, who landed on these lands, during the Trojan War. According to another legend, resumed also by Cassiodoro, the city was founded by Ulisse.
Borgia, like Scolacium, was under Byzantine rule, in the tenth, eleventh and 15th centuries. Squillace was dominated by the Aragonese and in 1494 passed onto Goffredo Borgia, the illegitimate son of Pope Alexander VI,, as a dowry. From that moment, the Borgia ruled those lands, until 1735, and gave the city its current name. This territory was always populated and was chosen by anyone who wanted to dominate Calabria. Roberto the Guiscardo, Norman king of Puglia, Calabria and Sicily, lived here temporarily, from 1059 to 1085.
The date of construction of the Basilica of Santa Maria provoked controversy among scholars. It was hypothesized that the church was constructed during the reign of Constantine I, or later, in the V-VI or VII-VIII centuries. It is very likely that the basilica was built by Greek orthodox monks before the Norman conquest.
The church, whose ruins have been preserved to this day, was built in the Norman period, in the early years of the reign of Sicily, and dates back to the years 1130-1150. However, it's Byzantine influences are evident.