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  • Syracuse and the necropolis of Pantalica

    Unesco Site since 2005

    Syracuse, in south-eastern Sicily, has been a city of great importance in the history of Mediterranean civilization. Founded in the 8th century BC. by Greek colonists on the small island of Ortigia, where the Arethusa spring was located, inspiring myths and poems and connected to the mainland by two bridges, was defined by Cicero as “the largest and most beautiful Greek city”. Subsequently, four other districts developed: Acradina, Tychè, Neàpoli, and Epipoli, so much so that the city was defined as the “Pentapolis” and became a leading metropolis on the scene of the ancient Mediterranean. Many well-preserved buildings and architectural structures bear witness to the domination of the Romans, Byzantines, Barbarians, Arabs, and Normans who succeeded over time in Syracuse and the continuous development of the city over the centuries, but at the same time, they give an account of the extraordinary importance that Syracuse has held for almost three millennia in the Mediterranean area. The world heritage site also includes the rock necropolis of Pantalica, 40 kilometers from Syracuse, which contains over 5000 tombs carved into the rock and dating from the period between the 13th and 7th centuries BC. From the discovery of megalithic construction, the Anaktoron, or Prince’s Palace, it has been hypothesized that Pantalica was an indigenous state expression of the Sicilian civilization before Greek colonization. With the growing influence of Syracuse, the settlement and necropolis of Pantalica were abandoned. During Byzantine domination, the necropolis system was repopulated and exploited to form rock villages, in which some of the tombs were enlarged and became homes, while others were used as a church or oratory. Subsequently, the Pantalica area returned to being uninhabited.


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