Tindari archaeological Area and antique Theater
Tindari, the archaeological area with Greek theater, as well as the Black Lady's Sanctuary and the Marinello LakesThe town of Tindari was founded on 396 BC by Dionysius of Syracuse. Its name, Tyndaris, was attributed to the town in honour of Tyndareus, king of Sparta. Destroyed by a landslide and two earthquakes, Tindari saw the light again thanks to some archaeological excavations started in 1838 and resumed later on between 1960 and 1998. During these excavations Roman mosaics, sculptures and ceramics were found, which are now displayed in the local museum. At present,, dating back to Greek-Roman times, the remains of the ancient town walls are visible, as well as the Sanctuary of the Black Madonna.The ancient town walls, restored during the late imperial and Byzantine era, extended originally for around 3 km over two parallel lines separated by a gap from which two square towers rose that conducted to the walls summit (a section of these stairs is still visible today). The main gate, on the south-west side, was sided by two towers and protected by a semi-circular pincer-style gate, the inner area of which was paved with pebbles. Other narrow passages opened up beside the main gate towers which were used for the defenders' exit.The Greek theatre, which was restored later in Roman times, is situated on a promontory from which there are magnificent views over the Tyrrhenian Sea, the Aeolian islands and the small lakes of Marinello. After years of neglect, today the theatre is the seat of musical shows and theatrical events during summertime.The small lakes of Marinello, or "dried sea," are a spectacular and curious sand formation that contains at its centre small stretches of water. According to one amongst various legends, a beach would miraculously form following the fall of a little girl from the Sanctuary's terrace, who was later found safe and sound on the beach which had just been created. Following the miracle, the child's mother, a pilgrim coming from a far-away land, would have changed her mind about the true nature of the scuplture, about which she had doubts because of the Virgin's black colour. Another legend tells of the death of Pope Eusebio on this very beach, on 17th August 310, a few months after his election, on 18th April. The Pope had supposedly been exiled to Sicily from Massenzio. Furthermore, next to the beach a small cave opens up. According to a local legend, this cave was inhabited by a witch who attracted sailors with her singing to then devour them. When some of her baits renounced to continue because of the difficulty of reaching the cave entrance the witch unburdened her feelings by plunging her fingers into the cave walls: the numerous holes in the rock would originate from this.The Sanctuary of the Black Madonna is situated at the very edge of the promontory. There lies a statue carved in cedar wood, that probably reached this coast due to Iconoclasm (a political-religious movement that developped during the Byzantine Empire arounf the first half of the VIII century). The church was destroyed by Algerian pirates in 1544 and was rebuilt a few decades later to be permanently enlarged in 1979. The Sanctuary festival occurs every year on 7th September.