The ancient town of Gessopalena

The ancient town of Gessopalena is located in Abruzzo in the province of Chieti. Placed on a ridge of a rock, there are many now abandoned houses positioned on parallel streets and buildings are leaned against each other. Nowadays these are all destroyed and what remains to witness their presence are the rooms buried in the gypsum rock.


The ancient town of Gessopalena is placed with a wonderful view of the eastern Majella. This village since ancient times has always maintained in its name the word “gesso” (gypsum). In fact the geological peculiarity of the place is just the gypsum that emerges to the surface and that in the past assured to Gessopalena a good economy; because they used it not only to build the houses, but also to make a commercial activity. We can indeed see the places where they mined the gypsum, the quarries, but also the places where there was the transformation of the mineral, by now both abandoned.

GessopalenaThe ancient town was gradually abandoned and people moved towards the new and current village and in 1959 the hamlet was definitively abandoned. So what remains today of the ancient village are only the skeletons of houses, many of which are carved into the gypsum.

The town of Gessopalena during the Second World War, unfortunately, was the scene of one of the most atrocious massacres implemented by the Nazis in Italy. In fact, exactly on 21st January 1944 in the district of Sant’Agata, 42 people were burned alive by Nazi troops; they were only women, children and elderly. After these tragic events many young people of Gessopalena founded one of the first partisan bands, which later joined the most famous Maiella Brigade.

Interesting sites

Besides the Ancient or Medieval Hamlet and the monuments we find:

  • Remains of megalithic walls
  • Church of Madonna dei Raccomandati
  • Church of Santa Maria Maggiore
  • Church of Sant’Antonio (or Tozzi)
  • Church of Sant’Egidio
  • Parish Museum Madonna dei Raccomandati

The Morgia is a large boulder that the inhabitants of Gessopalena call “lu leon” just because it seems like a lion that curls up. Near the Morgia have been found Italic and Roman remains.

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