The Greek Chalcidians founded Katane in 729 BC. During their rule the city expanded northward to Messina. Taken by Syracusans, who changed its name to Aitna, Catania lost its political autonomy.
The Romans, come in 263 BC, left indelible traces of their civilization. Ruins of an amphitheatre and of a thermal complex of the Augustan Age have partly survived ravages of humans and nature.
The Arabians and then the Normans occupied the city. The latter’s domination brought about a urban renewal. Many new buildings were erected, among which were the Cathedral and several monasteries that owned most of the day’s large estates. Under Spanish Aragoneses, Catania entered a period of prosperity. It become the seat of the Court, hence a major cultural, political and economic centre.