The main island of the Isole Eolie, takes its name from Riparo,
King of the Island and the Musoni (18th Century BC), who arrived
on the peninsula at the end of the II Millenium BC.
The Island of Lipari was however already inhabited since the
Neolithic Age (5th Millenium BC) and had its flourishing centre
on the plains of Castellaro. It seems that much attention was
reserved for the Island due an abundant presence of obsidian,
a volcanic glass, which
during Neolithic times was a precious commodity of exchange
in the entire Mediterranean, utilised in the development of
sailing ships (6th Millenium BC).
Before the arrival of Liparo, there were many other cultures:
Pianoconte (2700 BC), Piano Quartara in Panarea (second half
of the the III Millenium BC), the Milazzese Culture (15th
Century BC) of Sicilian origins and finally the arrival of
There were then centuries of terrible clashes due to the geographic
position of the Eolie, being an objective for power for the
Phoenicians and the Greeks. In ‘850 BC, Lipari was taken
and almost destroyed and the Eolie remained mostly uninhabited
until the arrival of the Cnidi, whose origins were Greek,
in 580 BC. The Greeks were very welcomed by the Island’s
few inhabitants, and constructed Acropolis and strengthened
the Town by making their marine experience available and allowing
Lipari to flourish commercially.
In 304 BC, Agatocle, tyrant of Syracuse, plundered the Island.
During the First Punic War, Lipari became ally to the Carthaginians
and due to this, was besieged and destroyed by the Romans
in 251 BC.
A period of economic depression followed, where the Eolie
Islands were only used as a place of deportation and confinement
and a marine garrison centre in the Castle.
The Island flourished once more under the Byzantines, when
it became a Episcopal seat and its town-planning was developed.
The Goths then took over power (5th-6th Century), the Byzantines
(6th-8th Century) and finally the Arabs, who devastated the
City and deported all its inhabitants in ‘838.
The Eolie Islands remained uninhabited until 1083 when the
Normans settled Benedictine monks in the Castle and these,
in order to re-populate the archipelago, gave land to a few
inhabitants and whoever wanted to live on the island. Thanks
to fiscal concessions, Lipari flourished once more under the
Angioini and the Aragonese.
In 1544, it was the Saracen pirate Barbarossa who besieged
Lipari and destroyed the Cathedral and the town, deporting
all its inhabitants as slaves.
Once again, a new defence wall was constructed, but Lipari
had to wait until the 18th Century to return to its economic
In 1860, it was annexed to the Reign of Italy, together with
the whole of Sicily.
The defensive walls are still present in Lipari, dating back
to the 16th Century and those of the 13th, as well as a tower
from the Greek Walls construction (4th Century BC). It is
across this that one can access the Castle and visit the Cathedral
of Saint Bortolomeo (Bartholomew), first built by the Normans
and destroyed by the pirate Barbarossa, then reconstructed
during the 18th Century in a Baroque style.
The Castle, the first urbanised area from Neolithic to Greek
times, is mainly occupied as the seat of the Eoliano Archaeological
Museum, one of the richest museums in Italy: it’s a
not to be missed visit for a better understanding of the history
of the Eolie Islands.