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Rocky Necropolis of Pantalica - Syracuse and the Rocky Necropolis of Pantalica

Pantalica, Italy

The Necropolis of Pantalica is a collection of cemeteries with rock-cut chamber tombs in southeast Sicily, Italy. Dating from the 13th to the 7th centuries BC, there was thought to be over 5,000 tombs, although the most recent estimate suggests a figure of just under 4,000. They extend around the flanks of a large promontory located at the junction of the Anapo river with its tributary, the Calcinara, about 23 km (14 mi) northwest of Syracuse. Together with the city of Syracuse, Pantalica was listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2005. The site consists of two separate elements, containing outstanding vestiges dating back to Greek and Roman times: The Necropolis of Pantalica contains over 5,000 tombs cut into the rock near open stone quarries, most of them dating from the 13th to 7th centuries BC. Vestiges of the Byzantine era also remain in the area, notably the foundations of the Anaktoron (Prince’s Palace). The other part of the property, Ancient Syracuse, includes the nucleus of the city’s foundation as Ortygia by Greeks from Corinth in the 8th century BC. The site of the city, which Cicero described as ‘the greatest Greek city and the most beautiful of all’, retains vestiges such as the Temple of Athena (5th century BC, later transformed to serve as a cathedral), a Greek theatre, a Roman amphitheatre, a fort and more. Many remains bear witness to the troubled history of Sicily, from the Byzantines to the Bourbons, interspersed with the Arabo-Muslims, the Normans, Frederick II of the Hohenstaufen dynasty (1197–1250), the Aragons and the Kingdom of the Two Sicilies. Historic Syracuse offers a unique testimony to the development of Mediterranean civilization over three millennia. The rock necropolis of Pantalica (also called Pantalica or Pantálica) is an archaeological area near the Sicilian town of Sortino, part of the Parco Archeologico della Valle dell'Anapo. It is located in a steep limestone basin in the valley of the Anapo, a tributary of the Simeto, which separates the province of Siracusa and the province of Catania.

The Rock Necropolis is a unique monument of ancient architecture and one of the most remarkable archaeological sites in Sicily. The Rock Necropolis consists of over 5,000 burial chambers carved out of the rock. These chambers were built in the late Bronze Age and early Iron Age and served as burial places for the wealthier members of the local population. They are arranged on two levels and are located on the left side of the valley.

The rock necropolis was an important religious centre of ancient Sicily and was occupied by different cultures over the centuries. The oldest buildings date from the Bronze Age, but there are also some examples of early Iron Age architecture. In the rocky necropolis you can also find the remains of a Byzantine church from the 11th century, some medieval castles, some Roman temples and even some buildings from the Greek and Arabic periods.

Today, the rocky necropolis is a popular destination for tourists and an important archaeological area that reflects the history of Sicily and its different cultures. It is a place where one can admire Sicily's past and present. It is a place that impresses and inspires visitors in equal measure.