History of Gaeta


See Gaeta guide for highlights and historic monuments

The first settlements in the territory of Gaeta date back to the 8th century BC. then in 345 BC the city was conquered by the Romans, who transformed it into a resort.

With the fall of the Roman Empire, Gaeta suffered much looting by barbarians and Saracens. To defend the city the castle was built. In the 8th century AD the town freed itself from the imperial authorities and a century later it gave rise to the Duchy of Gaeta.

The experience of the duchy ended in 1140, when Gaeta was captured by King Roger II of Hauteville (1095-1154).

At the time of the Angevins Domination, the city repeatedly had an important role. In 1442 Alfonso of Aragon (1396-1458) defeated Renato, the last ruler of Anjou (1409-1480) in southern Italy. During the Aragonese domination a new castle was built (called "Angevin"), while the old one was restored and joined with the new.

Under the Spanish, Gaeta grew even more in importance, because of its strategic and military location. Indeed, the proclamation of the Roman Republic led Pope Pius IX (1792-1878), in 1848, to take refuge at Gaeta, under the protection of the Bourbons.

Gaeta was annexed to the Kingdom of Italy with the national unification of 1861.

Origins of the name Gaeta

About the etymology of the town there have been several hypotheses. The oldest derives its name from "Caieta", mentioned by Virgil [70-19 BC] ('Aeneid ', 7, 1), and the nurse of Aeneas, from the Greek "Kaien" ("burn"), because the Trojans set fire to the ships of Aeneas. [1].

More contemporary proposals indicate the origin of the Latin name "Caieta" as arising from a typical feature of the site where the city is located. Professor Marta Sordi, internationally known scholar, writes that:

"[...] 'Caieta' is not so named in memory of the nurse of Aeneas (...) but as ‘concave’; in Greek all concave objects are defined 'kaietai' [...]" [2].

See also the Gaeta travel guide for visitor information.

References

1. See V. Teti, “Storia dell'acqua: mondi materiali e universi simbolici” [“History of water: physical worlds and symbolic universes”], Donzelli, 2003: 75, footnote 20

2. see M. Sordi, “Autocoscienza e rappresentazione dei popoli nell'antichità” [“Self-awareness and representation of the peoples of antiquity”], Ed. Vita e Pensiero, 1992: 180