Sant’Angelo, a sleepy town perched on a hilltop with the river Platani at its feet, was founded in the 16th century but the area is so rich in history and mythology that the two converge in this site. The slopes of the hill are honeycombed with numerous cave-tombs, some of which date back to the 9th century BC; this vast necropolis must therefore have belonged to an important Sican settlement. The biggest tomb, called the ‘Royal Tomb’, is the largest of its kind in Sicily: it is composed of two adjacent circular chambers, the largest of which has a diameter of 9m and a 3m high dome (tholos) very similar to the Minoan tombs in Greece of the same period. At the turn of the 19th century Paolo Orsi conducted extensive archaeological excavations here, discovering priceless treasures such as the ceramic and golden funerary objects now exhibited in the local museum MuSAm, the archaeological museums of Agrigento and Siracusa and the British Museum.
On Monte Castello, to the west of the town, the remains of an Arabian fortified castle can be found: the name Muxaro derives from this location, originally called Qalàt al-Mushar’à. This Arabian settlement was probably built on a site already inhabited previously; traces have been found of bronze age objects and some even believe it to be the location of the legendary fortified city of Kàmikos, built for the Sican King Kòkalos by the brilliant Greek architect Daedalus, who had escaped from the Cretan King Minosse by building himself a pair of waxen wings. The vengeful Minosse, who came looking for Daedalus in Sicily, was beguiled to death by the daughters of Kòkalos and buried on the site of Eraclea Minoa.
The story of Daedalus is only a myth, but the architectural style of the ‘Royal Tomb’ and several Greek helmets found in the area and currently exhibited in the archaeological museum of Agrigento prove that cultural exchange certainly existed between the Sicans and the Greek islands of Crete and Minoica. The caves are also of speleological interest: there is a nature reserve dedicated to the caves of Sant’Angelo, unfortunately not open to visitors now. It is, however, possible to explore the “Vallone del Ponte”, an underground waterway which follows the course of the river Platani, accompanied by a specialized guide. Do plan a stop to taste the excellent local cheeses and other typical products. A visit to Sant’Angelo will show you the real Sicily, rich in history, of unexpected natural beauty and generous in agricultural products.
Sant’Angelo Muxaro: distance from Agrigento approx. 38 Km
MuSam- Museo Archeologico di Sant’angelo Muxaro: open every day. Free entry
Monday – Saturday: 8:30 a.m. – 7:00 p.m.
Sunday and public holidays: 8:30 a.m. – 1:30 p.m.
Contacts of organizations and associations which offer tourist information and other useful services:
Municipality of Sant’Angelo Muxaro: telephone reception
MuSam- Museo Archeologico
Val di Kam Offices – excursions and experiences
Legambiente Sicilia Offices – speleological excursions
+39 0922919669 / +39 3206580990 / +39 3289529529
Comune di Sant’Angelo Muxaro: the coordinates indicate Piazza Umberto I.
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° 28' 49.19''
E 13° 32' 46.22''