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Founded by the Chalcidians in the 8th century BC., Catania quickly attained a position of importance in Sicily, often warring with Syracuse. It was taken by the Romans in 263 and experienced periods of great prosperity under the Empire.
After the fall of the Western Empire, Catania was dominated by the Goths, and in 552 passed together with the whole island to Byzantium, who held it until the 9th century, when Sicily was conquered by the Arabs.
The Normans took possession in 1072 and its fortunes were those of the Kingdom of Sicily until unification with Italy in 1860. Catania was destroyed by an earthquake in 1693 and rebuilt several years later to an orderly layout on late Baroque lines.