The story of Pantalica is a mysterious narrative deeply linked to a highly characteristic landscape, one of history’s greatest natural defence systems.
Traces of the prehistoric settlement disappeared suddenly around the 8th century BC, perhaps due to a war caused by the foundation of Syracuse and a consequent expansion inland.
The site was reoccupied and reused in the period between the Byzantine era and Islamic expansion towards the West.
With their small rocky churches, the villages and the very name Pantalica date back to this period of systematic restoration, for residential purposes, of many of the funerary rooms dug into the rock in the protohistoric period. The first village was located near the Cavetta necropolis and had around seventy houses around the oratorio del Crocifisso (Crucifix oratory), which today has remains of frescoes depicting the crucifixion and St. Nicholas.
The second village was founded in the cliffs below the Anaktoron, in the southern necropolis, and its religious centre was the oratory of San Nicolicchio, decorated with frescoes and inscriptions of which only some fragments of the figures of St. Helen and St. Stephen are visible today.
The largest of these villages was located between the southern necropolis and the pass of Filiporto and consisted of more than 150 houses and a small church dedicated to San Micidiario , where you can still admire a fresco depicting Christ Pantocrator behind the central niche.