Cattolica Eraclea has antique origins, but the town as we see it today dates back to the 16th century, just as its three main churches: Collegio di Maria, Purgatorio and Mercedes. The town is located on the delta plain of the river Platani which winds down through the Sicani Mountains and reaches the coast here. The unique ecosystem of this area is protected and called Riserva Naturale Foce del Platani. Many centuries ago the river was navigable and represented an important means of communication with the hinterland populated by the Sicani, the indigenous inhabitants of a large part of central and southern Sicily prior to Greek colonization. Suggestive remains of a Greek colonial settlement founded in the VI century BC, Eraclea Minoa, can be found to the East, perched on top of the white cliffs of Capo Bianco. The name of this site derives from a Sicilian myth which has it that this is where Heracle rested and where Minosse, the King of Crete, landed on the Sicilian coast in pursuit of Daedalus, the astute architect who had created the Minotaur’s labyrinth.
Daedalus had escaped from his imprisonment on Crete island and had found refuge in Sicily, protected by the Sican king Kokalos. Kokalos however refused to hand Daedalus over and Minosse was tricked into a lethal trap by the daugters of Kokalos. On the death of Minosse, Daedalus expressed his gratitude to Kokalos by building him a fortified city: Kàmikos. This legendary city has yet to be found, but several Sicilian towns of the area have laid their claim to fame: Santa Elisabetta claims it is Monte Guastanella, whereas Sant’Angelo Muxaro indicates Monte Castello. Due to its location on the border of the territories of the Greek cities of Selinunte and Akragas and its strategic position for both military and commercial purposes, the Greek settlement of Eraclaea Minoa was the object of many disputes between the two rival cities.
All that remains to be seen of Eraclea Minoa are parts of its protective wall, once fortified by towers and massive gates, remnants of the residential quarters and an enchanting theatre; the stone structure of the theatre is extremely frail and therefore protected from the corroding elements. The Antiquarium, located at the entrance to the site, displays the archeological finds of the area. To the East of Capo Bianco there is the bay of Eraclea Minoa. This endless wide sandy beach, fringed by pines and eucalyptus trees and framed by veins of white rock makes it a perfect spot for bathing and different activities such as trekking in mountain bike, snorkeling and canoa. Strolling amongst the ruins with a spectacular view over the green coast with its wide beaches and white cliffs it is impossible not to be overwhelmed by this powerful combination of natural beauty, history and mythology.
Cattolica Eraclea: distance from Agrigento approx. 40 Km
Eraclea Minoa: the Archaeological site and the Antiquarium are open all year round.
Open from Monday to Sunday: 9:00 a.m. – 16:30 p.m. – exit by 17:00 p.m.
The Archaeological site and the Antiquarium are part of the ‘Polo Regionale di Agrigento per i Siti Culturali’
Eraclea Minoa: entrance ticket to the Archaeological site and Antiquarium is €4 per person.
Free entrance for children under 18. 50% discount for EU citizens between 18 and 25.
Contacts of organizations and associations which offer tourist information and other useful services:
Municipality of Cattolica Eraclea: telephone reception
+39 0922 846911
Eraclea Minoa – Archaeological site: contacts for ticket and information
Associazione MareVivo: contacts for information on activities in the oasis nature
Pro Loco Cattolica Eraclea: contacts for information and excursions in the old town centre and surroundings.
Cattolica Eraclea: the coordinates indicate the entrance to the archaeological site of Eraclea Minoa.
The icons on the map indicate the points of interest and useful tourist services: open the map in full screen and click on the icons to visualize the information.
N 37° 23' 37.86''
E 13° 16' 56.82''