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Rocky Necropolis of Pantalica

What to see in Sortino, Siracusa, Sicily


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The Rocky Necropolis of Pantalica, near the sicilian illage of Ferla, seems to derive from the Arabic Buntarigah, which means caves, for the obvious presence of numerous natural caves and artificial. It constitutes one of the most important places protohistoric Sicilian, useful for understanding the moment of passage from the Bronze Age to the Iron Age in the island. The locality of Pantalica gave the name to a famous tale of Vincenzo Consolo Stones of Pantalica, wherein the plateau becomes a metaphor of the journey of man. The site is located on a plateau, surrounded by canyon formed in the course of the millenniums by two rivers, the Anapo and Calcinara, who have determined the orography canyon characteristic of the area. The area of Pantalica falls in the Riserva Naturale Orientata Pantalica, Valley of the Anapo and torrent Cava Grande.

In the first half of the XIII century B.C., all coastal settlements disappeared almost suddenly for the arrival in Sicily Sicilian and other populations italic; the indigenous population abandoned the coastline and sought refuge in the impervious and uncomfortable mountain areas, chosen because conforming to the requirements of defense, meeting in large agglomerates. Historically it is known that the king Hyblon (probably his kingdom had its headquarters to Pantalica) granted to megaresi, conducted by Lamis, settle down in a strip of its territory and founding Megara Iblea in 728 B.C. but the subsequent birth and expansion of Siracusa led to the destruction of the new city that Hyblon granted to megaresi and probably the Syracusans also destroyed the kingdom of Pantalica, having been the domain of the polis expanded up to the hinterland, with the foundation of Akrai in 664 B.C. in this epoch remain the ruins of the palace of the Prince or Anaktoron, as well as the presence of a vast necropolis of well 5000 tombs in artificial cave dug into the rock. The area of the necropolis will never be entirely inhabited in the Greek era; we will have to wait for the first centuries of the Middle Ages i.e. in the VI century A.D., when the peoples affected by the raids of the barbarians, the pirates and then of the arabs then in the IX century, will compel people to seek safe havens in these inaccessible places; thus there are testimonies of the Byzantine era. Today one can still see the remains of dwellings dug into the rock in the Byzantine period and the remains of small oratories rocky of the cave of the Crucifix of San Nicolicchio and San Micidiario. Even after the Arab occupation and the arrival of the Normans, the site was inhabited, confirms the chronicler Goffredo Malaterra that in 1092 speaks of a Arab community at the site of Pantargia, while the following year is the bull of Pope Urban II that in addition to cite the Diocese of Syracuse also considers Pentargia.

Pantalica is studded with necropolis in all its vast territory:

  • the necropolis of Filiporto is composed of a thousand tombs that extend on the slopes and in the valley of the Anapo, belonging to the last phase of the city (IX-VIII century B.C.);
  • the necropolis of the northwest, one of the most ancient in the zone (XII-XI century a.C.);
  • the necropolis of the slot of the IX-VIII century B.C. with the presence of Byzantine dwellings;
  • the necropolis north is the largest and the most dense and dates back to the XII-XI century B.C.;
  • the necropolis of San Martino, is among the most interesting. It is composed of tholos tombs of prehistoric and of Byzantine catacombs: the Hypogeum of Dionysius and the Grotta di Sant'Anna. The first dates back to the IV-V century A.D. and at the entrance there is a writing that reads: "Dionisio who served as a priest in the Church Erghitana for 34 years sleeping here the eternal sleep." While in the second probably dates back to the XI-XIII century has frescoes in some walls in which you recognize partially figures of saints: St. Maria and S. Peter as well as Sant'Anastasia. In both the necropolis there are the tombs to canopy.

The site of Pantalica presents of cultural influences diffusesi in other parts of Sicily. A first example is that of Sabucina, where there are circular huts of influence pantalicana almost intact in their base. On the site of Pantalica instead the finds are scarce, this constitutes a reason of interest to better understand Pantalica. Of the matrix pantalicana is the necropolis of Realmese, where the tombs are almost identical to those of Pantalica.

In the valley of the Anapo, at the beginning of the twentieth century was built a railway linking the coast with the hinterland passing inside the area of Pantalica. The railroad remained in operation until the fifties of the last century, then was dismissed. Today remain passable galleries and some railway buildings of the early twentieth century. Then there was even the train stop Necropolis of Pantalica.

Open everyday: 7-19.
Saturday and sunday on reservation, with guide service.
Notes: In case of rain or inclement weather, the reserve remains closed for the next three days.

  • Archaeological sites
  • Monument /attraction

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Nuova Dolceria
The specialties are candied ricotta, praline with olive oil, panettone of the Iblei.
Via Necropoli Grotticelle, 25, Siracusa (Siracusa)
23.18 Kilometers from Rocky Necropolis of Pantalica
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