We must go back in time, to the 5th and 4th centuries B.C., to go back to the original city. It was a fortress surrounded by the expanse of the sea and enclosed within powerful walls placed on top of a rock, which still marks the perimeter of what was a military outpost, known as
phrourion of Kephaloidion
Thanks to archaeological investigations which have provided a valid contribution compared to the meagre ancient literary sources, it is possible to reconstruct the history of the settlements, starting with the Sican-Phoenician one which, in Roman times, became a decuman city .
Reflecting a quotation from Diodorus Siculus , dating back to 396 B.C., stratigraphic reports have identified the remains of a Hellenistic Roman structure concealed by other structures from the Middle Ages, superimposed, respectively, on a regular, chequered urban plan, known as Hippodamia . The fortified walls made up of a megalithic facing with large blocks, dating back to the 5th century BC, and placed along the cliff, surrounded the city on four sides, with turrets distinguishable from the coast. A precious testimony, written by the Cefaludese scholar Benedetto Passafiume in the first half of the 17th century, describes the architecture within the walls, which is still visible today. For example, reference was made to the four doors and the posterns, small hidden openings, located far from the main entrances, intended as emergency passages. Such was the importance assumed by Cefalù through the centuries, that during the 700 A.D., it became an Episcopal seat, maintaining the episcopate even after the first years of the Arab conquest.
Of this period of domination, which lasted about two centuries, no significant evidence has been preserved, except in some areas of the city, in alleys and neighbourhoods located north of Corso Ruggero. The Norman conquest of 1063, the work of Great Count Roger of Hauteville , set the bases for the political and cultural rebirth of the city, carried out by his successor Roger II .
During his reign, the Norman king introduced a series of privileges granted to the Church and his subjects, as well as actions related to an organic renewal of the territory, still tangible in the modern age.