Pantalica e Siracusa patrimonio umanità
Siracuse and the rocky Necropolis of Pantalica was added to Unesco's World Heritage List in 2005.
Location:Region of Sicily near Syracuse
Tutto il documento dell' UNESCO : in inglese
1. BASIC DATA
State Party: Italy
Name of property: Syracuse and the rocky Necropolis of Pantalica
Location: Region of Sicily, province of Syracuse Date received: 2 February 2004
Category of property:
In terms of the categories of cultural property set out in Article 1 of the 1972 World Heritage Convention, this is a group of buildings and a site. In the terms of Paragraph 27 of the Operational Guidelines for the Implementation of
the World Heritage Convention, the property consists partially of a group of urban buildings in the category of "towns which are no longer inhabited but which provide unchanged archeological evidence of the past".
The property consists of two separate elements, which are however territorially complementary:
a) Necropolis of Pantalica
The zone contains over 5000 tombs cut into the rock, near to open stone quarries ("lautumiae"). Vestiges of the Byzantine era also remain, and particularly the foundations of the Anaktoron (Prince's Palace). Most of the tombs date back to the period from the 13th to the 7th century B.C.
b) Ancient Syracuse
The historic town area can be divided up as follows:
- the nucleus of the first foundation in the 8th century B.C.,
with the arrival of the first Greek colonists from Corinth:
Today this is an island (originally it was a peninsula), the
starting point for the development of the great town of
Syracuse (Pentapolis) and a point which enabled the
control of two natural ports.
- a 13th century fortification: the Castello Maniace;
- a cathedral, resulting from the transformation from the
7th century A.D. onwards of the Temple of Athena
(built in the 5th century B.C.).
- a set of archeological sites distributed over the urban
- the archeological remains of Neapolis, with the Greek
theatre, the altar of Hieron II of Syracuse, the Roman
amphitheatre and the stone quarries (lautumiae);
- the region of Scala Greca, with recent archeological
discoveries in a clearly delimited area;
- Euryalus Fort and the Fortifications of Dionysius, a
defence complex built between 402 and 397 B.C. for
which the plan was drawn up by Archimedes;
- the ancient remains of Thapsos, Achradina and Tyche.
Area of the group of buildings: 635.96 ha
Buffer zone: 874.45 ha
2. THE PROPERTY
Situated on the Mediterranean coast in south-eastern Sicily,
and having always enjoyed a favourable climate while
being relatively free of marked relief, the zone of
monuments and archeological sites proposed for
inscription on the World Heritage list has been inhabited
since protohistoric times.
a) Necropolis of Pantalica
The necropolis extends over some 1200 m from north to south and 500 m from east to west in the region of Sortino. In the hilly terrain (caverns and precipices) and a natural
environment of great beauty, about 5000 tombs are visible, most of which have been hewn out of the rock face. The tombs are divided into 5 sets:
- the north-western necropolis, with some 600 tombs in groups of 5;
- the northern necropolis, with some 1500 tombs: this is the most vast and spectacular (dated to 1200-1100 B.C.);
- the southern necropolis, between the two previous ones, dating to the same period;
- the Filipporto necropolis, with around 500 tombs and the Cavetta necropolis, with around 300 tombs (the latter dates to 9th-8th century B.C.).
Archeological research has brought to light, in this zone, vestigial remains of dwellings from the period of Greek colonisation. Materials of Mycenean origin and
monumental structures were recognised, enabling the identification of the Anaktoron, or Prince's Palace.
Similarly, it has been possible to identify a period of reoccupation of the site in the 9th-10th centuries: the zone was in fact used for the defence against invasions of Sicily
by the Arab armies.
On the side which has been inhabited from the
protohistoric neolithic period, and certainly from the start
of the 13th century (demonstrated by archeological
research and excavations), Syracuse symbolises by its
foundation the development of the Greek presence in the
This city, founded in the 8th century (c. 734 B.C.) was,
according to the Ancients, very large and extremely
beautiful. The orator and politician Cicero records that it
"was the greatest Greek city and the most beautiful of all.
Its reputation was by no means usurped, and it enjoyed a
unique site, between earth and sea "
Its central nucleus, today the island of Ortygia, controlled
two natural ports which had already become famous in
ancient times. Ortygia consisted of five parts, giving rise to
its alternative name of Pentapolis. The two ports are still
identifiable today: Porto Piccolo to the east and Porto
Grande to the west. Ortygia covers an area 1600 m long by
600 m wide, with a central main street and a network of
other streets reminiscent of the orthogonal plan of the
ancient Greek city, constructed in the 7th century B.C.
The following Greek vestiges remain (from north to south):
- Temple of Apollo (Apollonion);
- Ionic Temple;
- Temple of Athena (Athenaeion);
The Catacombs, the largest except for those in Rome, date
from the paleochristian period. Subsequently, many items
bearing witness to the troubled history of Sicily remain
(from the Byzantines to the Bourbons, with in between the
Arabo-Muslims, the Normans, the government of
Frederick II (Hohenstaufen) (1197-1250), the domination
of the Aragons and the Kingdom of the Two Sicilies):
- The church of St. John the Baptist (4th-16th
- The church of St. Martin (6th-14th centuries),
- Abeba Dunieli Palace (15th century),
- Bellomo Palace (13th-18th centuries),
- Migliaccio Palace (15th century),
- Francica-Nova Palace (15th century),
- Church of San Francesco allImmacolata (13th-18th
- Church of the Collegio (built by the Jesuits in the 17th
But the most celebrated monument, with its great square, is
the Cathedral, which incorporates the remains of a Greek
temple dating back to the 6th century B.C. The excavations
carried out in 1996-1998 under the square have brought
advances in our knowledge of the history of Syracuse and
its ancient monuments.
Constituted in 1952-1955, the archeological park of
Neapolis, in Syracuse, includes the most spectacular (and
some of the best preserved) Greek and Roman monuments
bearing testimony to the past of Sicily (area of this zone:
- the magnificent Greek theatre;
- the Nymphaeum zone (with the cave);
- the sanctuary to Apollo;
- the imposing altar of Hieron II (the king of Syracuse
in 265-215 B.C., the ally of the Romans against
- the remarkable Roman amphitheatre;
- the great stone quarries (12 in number, also known as
the "lautumiae") which extend over a distance of more
than 1.5 km;
- the Grotticelle necropolis, which contains the socalled
tomb of Archimedes.
Syracuse, in addition to its own history - one of the most
ancient in the Western Mediterranean (excavations and
research have revealed a substantial human presence as
early as the Neolithic period, and particularly from the 13th
century B.C., and have confirmed the presence of the first
Greek colonists Corinthians who arrived according to
literary tradition in 734 B.C.) - has experienced most of the
vicissitudes of the history of Sicily in general.
- 9th century B.C.:
The Phoenicians colonise the island.
- 8th century B.C.:
The Greeks in turn set up settlement colonies on the
eastern coast of Sicily (particularly at Syracuse) and
establish trading posts rivalling those of the Phoenicians,
and then those of Carthage, the Phoenicians' western
- 5th-4th centuries B.C.:
Syracuse, the island's main city, exercises hegemonic
control over the whole of Sicily (particularly under
Dionysius the Elder: 405-367 B.C.).
- 212 B.C.:
Rome wins the 1st war against Carthage, conquers Sicily
and makes it into a province, which then becomes a
veritable granary. Syracuse is occupied after a very long
and bitter siege (213-212).
- 5th-6th centuries A.D.:
Vandal domination is followed by the Byzantine conquest
(which lasted until the 9th century).
- 9th-10th centuries:
The Arabo-Muslims, after conquering Sicily by defeating
the Byzantines, turn it into an emirate. It prospers and
Palermo, its capital, becomes a remarkably brilliant
cultural and artistic centre.
Norman domination of the whole island.
- 12th century:
Sicily becomes the centre of a rich and powerful
monarchy, with the flowering of a brilliant and composite
The resplendent period of Frederick II Hohenstaufen.
The Duke of Anjou, Charles I, brother of St Louis, is
crowned King of Sicily by the Pope.
Sicily is in the control of Aragon.
The kingdoms of Naples and Sicily are united, forming the
Kingdom of the Two Sicilies.
Most of the monuments and sites proposed for inscription
are public property. They belong to:
- the Italian state (Ministry of the Interior),
- the region of Sicily,
- the province of Syracuse,
- or the Municipality of Syracuse.
The monuments of Ortygia and the archeological park of
Neapolis are state property.
The offices of the University of Catania, as a historic
monument of Syracuse, the University's property but
intended for public access.
The religious buildings (the Cathedral, a historic
monument, and the catacombs) are the property of the
archiepiscopal parish of Syracuse.
Some civil historic buildings belong to private individuals
or companies. However they are subject to public interest
- At national level:
The Ministry of Cultural and Environmental Properties, in
accordance with Italian Legislative Decree no. 490 of 29
October 1997 on the preservation of the artistic and
- At regional level:
The Superintendency for Architecture and the
Environment, in accordance with the provisions of
Regional Law 15/91 of 1998.
- At local level:
The municipal technical office of Syracuse.
Through a process of decentralisation, the Ministry of
Cultural and Environmental Properties is represented in
Syracuse by a Superintendency.
Funds, subsidies and grants are available at several levels
for the historic monuments and the heritage in general:
- Italian State:
Ordinary management and maintenance funds;
Special funds for projects or emergency funds (in the event
of natural disasters, for example);
Grants for heritage preservation from the Italian national
- Region of Sicily:
Ordinary funds and special funds for the maintenance and
restoration of the historic, artistic and monumental
Ordinary funds for the management of the historic, artistic
and monumental heritage.
- Province of Syracuse:
Grants for heritage management, including grants from
Grants for special heritage projects.
There is another source of financing in addition to the
above, which is large in amount and important in its
regularity: the contribution under a programme of the
European Commission, in connection with Agenda 2000
(Regional Operative Programme of Sicily, 2000-2006).
Justification by the State Party (summary)
By replacing the previous prehistoric culture which was
centred in Pantalica, the Greek civilisation culture that took
over and developed in Syracuse represented the most
important centre of the Mediterranean for a significant
period of the history of mankind. It predominated over the
rivals Carthage and Athens and rose to be the heart of
thought, art and culture.
History has also left extraordinary signs of its passage in
the town-planning and architectural superimpositions of
the subsequent ages which were developed on the
palimpsest of the Greek city and preserved extraordinary
traces of the persistence and integration of the various
cultures of the most significant eras of the western world.
This cultural stratification makes Syracuse a unique
3. ICOMOS EVALUATION
Actions by ICOMOS
An ICOMOS expert mission went to visit Syracuse and
Pantalica in September 2004.
ICOMOS has also consulted its International Scientific
Committee on Historic Towns and Villages (CIVVIH).
ICOMOS suggested to the State Party that the buffer zone
next to Syracuse-Ortygia and to the north of the set of
building in should be extended to include the coast, with a
view to strengthening the protection of the zone proposed
for inscription. The State Party has agreed to this
Despite the diversity of the properties (monuments in a
modern town, archeological zones, excavation areas) and
their scattered location over the area (at one end the
Municipality of Syracuse, and at the other, 40 km away,
the necropolis of Pantalica, the responsibility of the
Municipality of Sortino), a good level of conservation has
The inscription proposal dossier sets out the state of
conservation in detail.
State of conservation:
As the ICOMOS mission was able to observe, the state of
conservation of the properties proposed for inscription is
satisfactory. As indicated in the proposal dossier, there are
numerous indicators for the periodical measurement of the
state of conservation:
- by photograms: from 1977 to 1999, the area
considered has been covered by a campaign of
periodical aerial photography surveys.
Checks and monitoring which will continue to be carried
out have enabled a good evaluation of the state of
- By the establishment of a risk survey for the
archeological heritage of the area concerned.
- By constant surveillance of the maintenance, repair
and restoration works, particularly of works
undertaken on privately owned properties, and the
possibilities of illegal architectural treatment.
The management plan described in the inscription proposal
is of very high quality. In fact a special document on
management is attached to the proposal. It is a model of the
genre. It includes:
In addition to a definition of the basic requirements of
ICOMOS in this matter,
- a long-term plan for the years up to 2035,
- a schedule of works planned for the period 2004-2008.
It reviews and analyses all the existing plans relating to the
zone, and the projects drawn up (general development
plan, detail plans, town plan, landscape planning). The plan
is remarkable for the following reasons:
- its social dimension: raising the population's awareness of
- and its educational component: training in conservation
techniques at the University.
The Pantalica necropolis is located in a zone which is distant from all urban areas and industrial facilities. This remarkable location safeguards it against a wide range of
The Syracuse/Pantalica ensemble offers,through its remarkable cultural diversity, an exceptional testimony to the development of civilisation over some three millennia.
The group of monuments and archeological sites situated in Syracuse (between the nucleus of Ortygia and the vestiges located throughout the urban area) is the finest example of outstanding
architectural creation spanning several cultural aspects (Greek, Roman and Baroque).
Ancient Syracuse was directly linked to events, ideas and literary works of outstanding universal significance.
3. Invites the authorities responsible for the management of the property to increase their vigilance to avoid problems relating to the insertion of the conservation process into a living and evolving urban setting.
4. Encourages the State Party to pay special attention to houses that are currently unoccupied in Ortygia, and to find them a function in urban activity.
5. Requests the State Party to draw up a detailed report on the conservation of the property, and changes in its condition, every 5 years.
ICOMOS, April 2005
Revised Map showing the boundaries of the nominated property Aerial view of Pantalica from the south Aerial view of Syracuse