Tindari Tourist Attractions
CommunicationsNear the SS 113 Milazzo-Cefalù and the A 20 (Patti exit). Oliveri/Tindari rail station (1km/0.6mi).EventsHistorical plays are performed in June in the Teatro Greco.
The main festival in honor of the Black Madonna takes place on eighth September.LocationAt the top of a 280m/920ft high cliff on the north coast of Sicily lies Tindari, the ancient Tyndaris, and at its feet the Mare Secco, a sandy beach reaching far out into the sea. Many people come to Tindari to visit the Zona Archeologica, with its interesting finds from ancient Tyndaris, as well as the pilgrimage church of the Black Madonna.HistoryTyndaris was a town which was founded towards the end of the period when the Greeks colonized Sicily. It was built by Dionysios I of Syracuse in 396 B.C. to safeguard the north coast against Carthaginian attacks. He populated it with refugees from Greece, especially those from Messini, Zákinthos and Naupaktos who had lost their homes during the Peloponnesian War.Tyndaris was named after King Tyndareos (Tyndarus) of Sparta, whose wife Leda was said to have given birth to the heavenly twins Castor and Pollux. Numerous coins found in Tyndaris show these twins, either as heads or signs of the zodiac. The town grew quickly and soon had more than 5000 citizens. Tyndaris supported Timoleon and in 270 B.C. opened its gates to Hiero II of Syracuse. In the First Punic War it first took the side of the Carthaginians and then in 254 B.C. went over to the Romans, and Rome later considered it one of the "seventeen most faithful communities in Sicily". The town blossomed during the Roman period, as witnessed by the large number of buildings from that time. From the indictments made by Cicero against the art-thief Verres we learn that the latter stole a gold statue of Hermes from the people of Tyndaris. During the Roman Empire a large part of the town was destroyed in a mountain landslide. In the Christian era Tyndaris became a diocesan town. In 836 it was destroyed by the Saracens.History of the Adoration of the Virgin MaryThe date when the Adoration of the Virgin Mary first began cannot be determined exactly. According to legend the statue with miraculous powers on the high altar in the Santuario della Madonna Nera came to Sicily from Constantinople in the eighth or ninth centuries when iconoclasm flared up. Legend also states that the ship in which it was being brought to safety ran aground off Tindari and was able to free itself only after the statue of the Virgin had been brought ashore. A chapel was built, which was destroyed by pirates in the 16th century and replaced by a new chapel of the Black Madonna. The present church, the dome of which can be seen from afar, is a new building erected in the 1950s.
The excavations in Tindari, begun in 1812 at the suggestion of the British consul Fagon and systematically continued since 1949, have uncovered a part of the ancient town.
As soon as he reaches the entrance the visitor will notice sizable remains of the old town wall and on the left a gate, the Porta Principale, dating from the third century B.C.From the Piazzale Belvedere Via Teatro Greco leads between shops selling devotional objects to pilgrims to the entrance to the cemetery area.
The residential quarters of the town are laid out in arectangular street system. A few insulae (blocks of houses) and tabernae (shops) have been uncovered. Particularly striking is the Casa Romana, a house which belonged to a well-to-do citizen in the first century B.C. (with extensions added in the A.D. first century), with a peristyle courtyard and mosaic floors.
Alongside the residential quarters in Tindari runs the decamunus, leading to the basilica. The latter building, dating from the end of the first century B.C., shows an interesting mix of styles, with Greek square stone blocks and Roman vaulted roofs. It was the entrance gate to the agora (forum), and also used as a place for holding meetings and court procedures.
Along the ancient road in Tindari the visitor will first come to the Antiquarium, where local finds are displayed and there is a reconstruction of the Theater.
Near the Antiquarium in Tindari is the Theater, built on a hill and looking out to sea. It was constructed in the fourth century B.C. but altered in Roman times. During these alterations the Greek stage was pulled down, the lowest of the 28 rows of seats removed, the orchestra set lower and surrounded by a wall so that the public could watch in safety the gladiatorial contests and the animals being baited. Every June historical plays are performed here.
Excavations where the ancient acropolis stood are not permitted, because it is there - on the far side of Piazzale Belvedere, which is rightly so named because of the superb view down to the coast - that the pilgrimage church now stands. It is a modern building, decorated with numerous representations of the legend of the Black Madonna and the history of the shrine. The focal point is the statue of the Madonna with the words "Niger sum, sed formosa" (I am black but beautiful).LegendIt is said that once a pilgrim was most disappointed on seeing the Black Madonna and made some disparaging remarks. A short time later the child of the impertinent pilgrim fell over the cliffs. As proof of her mercy and also of her power the Madonna caused the sea to recede and soft cushions of sand to form and catch the child as it fell. It is then that she is supposed to have said "Niger sum, sed formosa". Since then Tindari has sat in state above the Mare Secco, the "dry sea".
Map of Tindari Attractions