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Gela (jāˈlä) [key], city (1991 pop. 61,319), S Sicily, Italy, on the Mediterranean Sea. It is a port, industrial center, and seaside resort. Petrochemicals are produced nearby, and petroleum is refined in the city. Much cotton is grown in Gela's hinterland. The city was founded c.688 B.C. by Greek colonists from Crete and Rhodes and soon flourished, founding (c.580 B.C.) Acragas (the later Agrigento). It attained its greatest prosperity under the tyrants Hippocrates and Gelon in the 5th cent. B.C. However, the city was sacked by Carthage in 405 B.C. and never fully recovered. In 282 B.C., Mamertine mercenaries (see Messina) destroyed the city, and Phintias, tyrant of Acragas, resettled the inhabitants in the new city of Phintias (now Licata). In a necropolis near Gela, Greek vases and other objects have been found; excavations (begun in 1901) have uncovered the ancient Greek wall of Gela (5th–4th cent. B.C.) and two temples. The modern city was founded by Emperor Frederick II in 1230; until 1927 it was known as Terranova di Sicilia. In World War II, Gela was a landing point (July, 1943) for the Allied invasion of Sicily.

The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.

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