Numerous traditions link the origins of Terracina to legendary events; according to some of these, the town is supposed to have been founded by refugees from Sparta while other legends say that the town was the mythical home of the witch Circe.
The town was probably founded as an Ausonian settlement, located on two gentle hills under Mount S. Angela. From 406, under Roman rule, the town’s economy flourished also due to the fact that from 312 B.C. the Via Appia passed through it.
The town became a colony in 29 B.C. with the name of Colonia Anxurnas. The flourishing local economy allowed the town to grow rapidly and also to expand over the plain making greater use of the agricultural land.
Gradually it became more expedient for the town to reposition itself lower down than its original position above the plain and the original ancient centre gradually changed into an area of monuments.
During the VIII and IX century, the town became part of the new Papal State; in that period numerous churches, monasteries and sanctuaries consecrated to martyrs were built both in the town and outside its walls.
Following the spread of malaria which in XVI affected most of southern Lazio, Terracina saw its population decrease constantly.
Thanks to the Church which in the XVII century decided to distribute land free of charge and to grant fiscal exemptions, the town gradually became populated again and the measures contributed to creating new boosts, well-off families rebuilt homes and a general process of restoration of the town began.