Il Cilento

The History of Agropoli, from the Byzantines to the Sanfelici

Agropoli, called the gate of the National Park of Cilento and Vallo di Diano, stands on a promontory stretched out over the sea, at the southern end of the Gulf of Salerno and south of the Sele plain and is one of the most enchanting tourist destinations in the whole of Campania . Of Byzantine origin, its village oozes history in every corner, allowing not only tourists to enjoy a relaxing holiday surrounded by unspoiled nature, but also to know and visit the many architectural testimonies there.
The territory of Agropoli was frequented starting from the Neolithic period by populations dedicated to hunting and fishing.
At the mouth of the river Testene in the past there was a bay, used by the Greeks for trade, both before and after the foundation of the nearby Poseidonia (Paestum). On the nearby promontory, which took the name of “Petra”, in the middle of the seventh century BC a temple dedicated to Artemis was built. In Roman times, from the first century BC the presence of a small seaside village, Ercula, is attested, near the current San Marco seafront, destined to serve as a landing place also for the nearby Paestum, whose port was becoming sandy.
Following the Vandal raids in the fifth century the village, hardly defensible, was abandoned by the inhabitants, who moved to the nearby promontory. Between 535 and 553, with the Greek-Gothic war the Byzantines placed there a stronghold, which took the name of Acropolis (“high city”). At the end of the 6th century the bishop of Paestum took refuge there to escape the Lombards. With the arrival of Byzantine refugees from Lucania, Agropoli expanded and became the seat of a bishopric.
In 882 the Byzantines were expelled by the Saracens, who built a ribàt (new fortification): from here the attacks began to close to Salerno. In 915 the Saracens were driven out and Agropoli returned to the bishops, who in the meantime had settled in Capaccio. The bishops dominated the city throughout the Middle Ages, along with the centers of Ogliastro and Eredita, and the villages of Lucolo, Mandrolle, Pastina, San Marco di Agropoli and San Pietro di Eredita, which composed the fief of Agropoli.
In 1412 the fiefs of Agropoli and Castellabate were ceded by Pope Gregory XII to King Ladislao of Durazzano (1386 – 1414) as a partial payment of debts accumulated over the course of some wars. On 20 July 1436, Alfonso D’Aragona granted the fiefs of Agropoli and Castellabate to Giovanni Sanseverino, former Count of Marsico and Baron of Cilento, who as compensation had to pay to the bishops of Capaccio 12 ounces of gold a year. Only in 1443 the king took possession of the territory.
Later Agropoli passed under the dominion of several families: between 1505 and 1507 Rodrigo D’Avalos marquis of Vasto and, until 1552, the Sanseverino family. Following the loss of his possessions by Prince Ferrante, the last representative of the Sanseverinos, accused of treason in 1553, Agropoli passed to D’Ayerbo d’Aragona, in 1564 to Grimaldi, in 1597 to Arcella Caracciolo, in 1607 to Mendoza, in 1626 to the Filomarino, former princes of Roccadaspide, in 1650 to Mastrillo, who alternated for a short period with the Zazzero d’Aragona. The Sanfelici, dukes of Laureana, retained power over the town until the abolition of the feudal system.
In the nineteenth century Agropoli began to expand beyond the ancient village.
From 1811 to 1860 it was part of the district of Torchiara, belonging to the Vallo district of the Kingdom of the Two Sicilies.
From 1860 to 1927, during the Kingdom of Italy, it belonged to the Torchiara district, belonging to the Vallo della Lucania district.

sources: go to the website
sources: go to the site