Since the Greek epoch, Messina has played a decisive political role much due to its highly strategic position and harbor, that was already outstanding as far back as the 5th century BC. It was subjected to many foreign rulers, under which it saw periods of alternate fortune. The Roman, ruling since 263 BC, developed the city’s urban plan. The Byzantines notably fostered the harbor that soon became a major stop in the Mediterranean routes. The Norman, as the Roman, placed a great value on urban development. They built the Royal Palace and the Cenobio Basiliano S. Salvatore. The discovery of some urban abandoned settlements and the construction of the fortress of Castellammare is due to the Swabian. The following centuries would witness the rise of the local middle classes.