Welcome to the province of Catania in Sicily, home to the town of Grammichele. Grammichele is one of the few towns all over the world that feature the amazing hexagonal layout. The town, Grammichele, was created following the great Sicily earthquake of 1693. The earthquake wiped out the earlier settlement known as Occhialà. It was located to the north of current Grammichele.
The survivors built a new town and named it Grammichele, after St. Michele, with the hopes that the saint will protect the new town from any future disasters. The town was built by Carlo Maria Carafa Branciforte. He was the prince of Roccella and Butera. The town was designed by Michele da Ferla and was the first city in the world to feature the hexagonal plan.
The layout was, most likely, inspired by Palmanova – a fortified town that was built about a century ago. The only difference between Palmanova and Grammichele is that Palmanova was based on a nine facets polygon whereas the Grammichele has a hexagonal plan that can be extended indefinitely.
The hexagonal layout is divided into six sectors with six roads. All of these roads converge at the center of the hexagon, also a hexagon, where public offices have been built. The town features a number of collecting areas that could house residents in case another calamity struck. The squares are equidistant and have been connected using geometrically concentric road network around the main hexagonal square that is now known as Prince Carafa Square. The original plan also included four rectangular districts out of which one was supposed to house the Prince Palace, however; these districts were never built.
According to Eran Ben-Joseph and David Gordon, authors of a paper on hexagonal planning; hexagonal planning is rare in these days and ‘a mere oddity among a vast array of ideologies, theories and methods.’ Although it did become the apple of the eye of planners, architects, and engineers during the early 20th century, no large scale plans of this layout were ever executed.
What do you think of this amazing town planning feat? Do let us know!