The legendary city of Tindari

3 minutes to read

The village of Tindari, a town of Greek origin on the northern coast of Sicily is an ideal place with a little something for everyone: for the faithful the stunning Santuario and, in the month of September for the celebration of the Black Madonna. For the history fans the opportunity to learn about one of the most beautiful archaeological sites in Sicily dating back to classical times. But Tindari is also known for its beautiful golden beaches, a highly recommended destination for lovers of sea and nature.

In a dominant position, in the place which was the agora of ancient Tyndaris, the sanctuary of the Madonna of Tindari attracts pilgrims from all over Sicily. The gleaming building was completed in 1979 with a basilica, divided into three aisles. On the walls are mosaics, while the wooden statue of the Virgin Mary is located behind the main altar with clear Byzantine features. From the square of the Sanctuary, the panorama opens up to the view of the Aeolian Islands.

Legends surround the cedar wood-carved Black Madonna and how she ended up in Tindari. Local tradition claims that the Byzantine statue was smuggled out of Constantinople in the eighth and ninth centuries and when a storm blew up, the sailors offloaded the Black Madonna into the port of Tindari. There are also legends linked to her role in the creation of the tongue of sand and lagoon which lies in the shadow of the church. Another beautiful legend tells about a woman pilgrim coming from a small village to ask for a grace for her daughter seriously ill. When she arrived in front of the Madonna she refused to pray because she was black. The woman accidentally dropped her baby in the sea but the Black Madonna raised the sand in order to save the baby and demonstrate her compassion . Some fishermen saw a girl playing happily on the beach, safe and sound, the fishermen took her and they reported to his mother that at that point she realized the miracle that had happened and moved to go to church to thank the Madonna. The Marinello lakes are located right at the foot of the promontory where the Sanctuary of the Black Madonna stands, and almost as a testimony to this miracle, the shape of this beach tongue is curious, a shape that seems to depict a woman with arms outstretched the fallen baby.

Another major monument in Tindari is the theatre, built in Greek times between the end of the 4th and 3rd centuries BC, which could hold about 3,000 people. Originally the arena was surrounded by a high podium, which may have reached 2.5 meters in order to protect the public from the dangers of the gladiatorial games. At the edge of the orchestra there is a stage of Hellenistic origin, with a diameter of about 18 meters. The façade, 12 meters high, was decorated with three rows of statues and Doric columns, as shown by the model presented in the Museum.

A final but important characteristic of the ancient "Tyndaris" are the city walls, still largely visible today. Originally, they were three kilometers long, a metre wide and just over seven meters high, with two towers and into which three gates opened. The walls were formed by large and multi-faceted blocks of rectangular and square stone.

The beauty of Tindari lies in combining the simplest things with the glorious beauties of the past, indeed in addition to the historical treasures of the city, Tindari remains a stunning seaside village: the beautiful beaches and the crystal clear waters are as beautiful as the more famous sicilian resorts, but less known and crowded. Just below the town there is one of the most beautiful bays: with alternating beaches, dunes, lagoons and reefs, at the foot of the promontory which houses the Sanctuary. Nearby you can visit other beautiful seaside resorts a few kilometers from Tindari: Cape Calava, Capo d’Orlando and Milazzo.

A colorful culinary tradition, rich in tasty local products such as olives, citrus fruits, tomatoes, fresh fish and cheeses, surrounds a lively folklore, which can be experienced best during holidays and local events. Between July and September, at the Greek Theater, the prose season takes place, while on 7 and 8 September there are celebrations in honor of the Black Madonna, a religious solemn procession takes place through the streets of Tindari and then leaves room for the most lively celebrations with fireworks. These are surely the best period to experience the real soul of the city.


The author

Eleonora Ruzzenenti

Eleonora Ruzzenenti

I am Eleonora, from Italy. I share with you a frenetic passion for travelling and an insatiable curiosity for different cultures. On itinari, you will find my stories about Italy.

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