The Necropolis of Pantalica is a large necropolis with over 3,000 tombs dating from the 13th to the 7th centuries BCE. Pantalica is situated in the valley of the rivers Anapo and Calcinara in south-eastern Sicily. Together with the city of Syracuse, Pantalica is listed as Syracuse and the Rocky Necropolis of Pantalica on the list of UNESCO World Heritage Sites
Around 1300 BCE, the Sicans tribe left their coastal settlements and settled down in the valley between the rivers Fiume Anapo in the south and Fiume Calcinara in the north. As dwellings, they used natural limestone caves in existing slopes as well as carving artificial caves in the mountain. Probably around 1100 BC the Anaktoron (palace) was built.
From the original settlement, over 5000 artfully constructed cave tombs remain. In 665 BCE during the Hellenistic colonization of Syracase, the settlement was destroyed. In the early Christian and Byzantine period new tombs were created and the Pantalica became a hiding place during the Arab invasion. They named the place Buntarigah (caves).
After the valley was inhabited by the Normans, it was abandoned. Paolo Orsi, an archaeologist, recognized its importance and started excavation activities. In 2005, it became a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Flora and fauna
In this area the oleander is very common. This evergreen plant blooms from May to July. The flower color varies from white to pink. The fruit is ripe in October and November. It is a poisonous plant for humans and animals because of the high content of glucosides. The Sicilian trout is a salmonid that is found only in southern Italy, Sicily, Sardinia and North Africa. This fish is very demanding, requiring fresh highly oxygenated water.
The Necropolis has a 1 West entrance Pantalica and an 2 East entrance Pantalica. Both entrances can be reached by car. West from Ferla and east from Sortino. Follow the brown Pantalica tourism signs. A small visitors center can be found at the west entrance. You can park your car here but it is possible to follow SR11 further east and park your car at the end of the road.
Both entrances can be reached by bus from Syracuse.
Fees and permits
In high season, there may be an entry fee.
It is possible to explore by foot or by bike. Take headgear if biking, and drinking water.
- In the center is the Anaktoron, the palace with Mycenaean influence that dates 12/11 BC. It is in the middle of the valley and reachable by road SR11. A hiking trail leads south along the remaining’s of Greece temples. After the remaining’s of the Byzantine San Nicolicchio cave shrine a trail leads along the south of the Necropolis to the west into the valley of Anapo. A little further west the path leads past the ruins of the Byzantine settlement San Micidiario to a parking area on the SR11.
- In the west, in the area of a natural bottleneck in the access to the valley, is the Necropolis Filip Porto from the 9th-8th century BC with about 500 grave sites.
- A little further on the SR11 is the Necropolis North-West on the slope at the Torrente Sperone in the north. It was created in the early days of the 12th-11th century BC and contains about 600 tombs.
- The most extensive and most impressive necropolis is the North Necropolis from the 12th-11th century BC with 1,500 tombs, which stretches on the southern slope of the Fiume Calcinara and spreads to the east on the slope of its northern shore. A footpath leads from the North Necropolis to the north, passing the Byzantine cave shrine Crocifisso. From there, the path leads down to the bank of the Fiume Calcinara and the northern part of the necropolis on the northern slope of the valley and the natural cave Grotta dei Pipistrelli.
- The slightly smaller Necropolis Cavetta with about 300 graves located in the east dates from the 9th-8th century BC and shows traces of Byzantine settlements. From the eastern end of the SR11, a footpath leads south to the natural Grotta Trovata. Another path leads to Necropolis Cavetta just west of the SR11.
When hiking around the necropolis, time passes quickly, but you may still have time to swim in the Anapo or Calcinara.
Buy, eat and drink
There are no shopping, eating, or drinking facilities.
- Campanio Villaggio Agrituristico, c.da Campanio, sn Ferla, ☏ , ✉ firstname.lastname@example.org. Rooms and apartments on a 150,000-m² area within the Nature Reserve Pantalica with a lot of facilities including golf and swimming pool.
- 1 [dead link] Porta Pantalica, c.da Mascà sn, Cassaro, ☏ , ✉ email@example.com. The farmhouse Porta Pantalica offers accommodation in 7 comfortable bedrooms €30-75.
Think about adequate sun protection and drink supplies. It can be very hot in summer. Refreshments are not available on the site.
- Palazzolo Acreide with the excavations of the Greek polis is not far away.
- Visit the necropolis of Thapsos, which is probably from an earlier culture.