Perched on a chalky hill in the Sicani Mountains, with the Platani River flowing at its base, the village of Sant’Angelo Muxaro was founded around the 16th century. However, its origins trace back to such an ancient area that myth and history converge into a singular narrative here. The slopes of the hill are dotted with numerous rock-cut tombs, some dating back to the 9th century BC. These tombs form an extensive necropolis from what must have been a thriving Sican settlement during the Bronze and Iron Ages. This site holds strategic significance due to two main factors. Firstly, the critical role of the Platani River, which was navigable at the time, connecting the coast to the hinterland. Secondly, the enviable position that Monte Sant’Angelo, along with its neighboring peaks, Monte Castello and Pizzo dell’Aquila, occupies within the middle valley of the Platani. Here, you can also find the largest protohistoric tomb in Sicily, known as the “Tomba del Principe” (Prince’s Tomb). This tomb consists of a double circular chamber, with the first chamber measuring 9 meters in diameter and over 3 meters in height, featuring a tholos dome 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. Ultimately, visiting Sant’Angelo Muxaro means immersing yourself in an ancient and authentic Sicily, rich in myth and history, as well as flavors that are as generous and exquisite as the local people themselves.
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.
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N 37° 28' 49.19''
E 13° 32' 46.22''
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