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Sulmona History

The Middle Ages were both a flourishing and turbulent period for the city of Sulmona. The beginning of the Christian age in Sulmona was in the 3rd century. The city was part of the diocese of Valva. One of the earliest bishops was Saint Pamphilus (San Panfilo), an Italian pagan who converted to Christianity in the 7th century from nearby Corfinium. He was elected bishop of Valva in 682 and died in 706. He is the patron saint of Sulmona and is buried in the church dedicated to him, the present Sulmona Cathedral.


During the reign of Frederick II, all of the major civil works were completed, such as the Medieval Aqueduct, one of the most important monuments of the whole area. Only at the end of 1200 AD, with the resignation of the Pope Celestino V did the decline of Sulmona begin and lead the town into much more difficult and less flourishing times. After the fall of the Swabians, the Angevins took the power and were much more hostile to the city which was loyal to Frederick II.


Despite the many difficulties during the Renaissance, there was another period of great splendor, especially in the 14th century, when the city tripled size and its second set of defensive walls with other six gates was built.


During the 16th century, the famous Goldsmith School of Sulmona and the printing industry were formed with many factories planted along the river Gizio. Trade and commerce grew significantly thanks to the market of precious fabrics and wool, of which the Abruzzo became the first manufacturer in Europe.


In 1656 the city was struck by a terrible plague. Later on, in 1706 there was a terrible earthquake that destroyed the entire city. This tragic event was the starting point for a new period of rebirth and richness which continued throughout the whole 19th century and during which roads, railroads and modern infrastructures were built.


During the Second World War, Sulmona was severely damaged by bombing, due to its postiion of strategic roads and railroad junctions for all of Abruzzo. Reconstruction started immediately in 1946, restoring the Public Records Office and a part of the city that had been completely destroyed. 


Special Thanks for the photos go to Servizi Turistici Sulmona - Soc. Coop. and the photographers from Hobby Foto Sulmona e Massimiliano Verrocchi.

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