The Necropolis of Pantalica is a large necropolis in Sicily with over 5,000 tombs dating from the 13th to the 7th centuries BC. Pantalica is situated in the valleys of the rivers Anapo and Calcinara, between the towns of Ferla and Sortino 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.
Pantalica is located on a plateau surrounded by canyons formed by the Anapo and Calcinara rivers between the towns of Ferla and Sortino in south-eastern Sicily. It is an important natural area with various paths allowing visitors access. The Anapo valley is accessible by a path that runs for 10 km along the ancient route between Syracuse and Vizzini. The route to the plateau can also split off to the Sella di Filiporto ("Filiporto's Saddle"), starting from the Ferla region or, on the other side, the bank of the Sortino, which then leads to the Grotta dei pipistrelli ("Cavern of the Bats").
World Heritage Site
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. In the first half of the 13th century BC, all the coastal settlements suddenly disappeared with the arrival of the Sicels and other Italian peoples. The indigenous population abandoned the coastal settlements and took refuge in the hills and unpleasant mountains chosen for their defensive value and they gathered together in great crowds.
Ancient accounts say the king Hiblon Megara Hyblaea went to the edge of their land and founded Megara Hyblaea in the year 728 BC. But the later birth and expansion of Syracuse determined the destruction of the kingdom, expanding inland to found the city of Acres in 664 BC. The vestiges of that era are Palazzo del Principe or Anaktoron as well as a vast necropolis of some 5000 tombs in small artificial caves excavated in the rock.
The area around the necroplis wasn't only occupied during the Magna Graecia era, but also during the first centuries of the middle ages when populations displaced by the invading barbarians, pirates and, later, the Saracens looked for a safe refuge and found it in this near inaccessible area. Even today, there remains visible homes built into the rock when the area was part of the Byzantine Empire and remains of the small painted chapels called Grotta del Crocifisso, Grotta di San Nicolicchio and Grotta di San Micidario.
Necropolis of Pantalica
Pantalica is covered by necropolis over a large area:
- The necropoli di Filiporto ( 9 km from Ferla) is covered by a vast amount of tombs and extends over the hillsides, the Anapo basin and the area from the last phase of the city (13th-9th century BC)
- The necropoli di Nord-Ovest is one of the most ancient in the area (12th-11th century BC)
- The necropoli della Cavetta has remains from the 9th and 8th century BC, along with buildings of the Byzantine empire.
- The necropoli Nord is the most vast, dated from the 12th to 11th century BC.