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Kamarina is an ancient site at the Sicilian resort town of Santa Croce Camerina. For most visitors the nearby beaches and coast will be the priority of a visit but take time to also discover the historic site of Kamarina.
Kaukana, to use the ancient name for Kamarina, is a very important example of a settlement from late antiquity, and was an active town over various periods between 600 BC and 280 BC, then under the Romans until the 9th century AD. Although the remains here are rather sparse, the age and history of the settlement makes it an interesting site to visit.
According to archaeologists Kaukana was a small port town with warehouses and facilities including fortified houses, built in order to hold and defend the goods arriving in the port. Kaukana was therefore used as a commercial and military port during the Classical Age and the Byzantine Middle Ages [from 5th to 7th century AD] (8).
The houses in Kamarina were small, but in some cases had a yard and warehouses and commercial outbuildings. The walls are made of irregular stones bound with mortar.
Inside the park the remains of a small church are also visible, which seems to have been used from the fourth to the seventh century A.D. It is a small church with three naves with a semicircular apse at the end of the central nave, where the remains of a mosaic floor with figures of animals were found.
Situated on a hill, the Acropolis of Kamarina has the remains of the Temple of Athena and of the Agora. The best-preserved remains are the walls. Studies by P. Pelagatti have shown that the defensive walls in some places were 2.50 meters wide, made with minute stones (9).
Regional Museum of Camarina
The Regional Museum of Camarina, a rural building of the 19th century, is an important museum and has several sectors dedicated to the history of the city. The first room holds the oldest artefacts, such as a wreck dating back to the sixth century B.C. In this room there also are some objects found in the sea in front of the Acropolis of the ancient city of Kamarina, such as two bronze statues depicting Harpocrates [the God of … silence] and Aphrodite [the Goddess of Love].
From the Byzantine period there are a female head in white marble and a silver plate dating back to the Byzantine period. In other rooms there are amphorae and artefacts relating to other cults of Kamarina. The largest group of the exhibits in this room is made up of clay statuettes unearthed by Paolo Orsi at the end of the 19th century. In the west room are archaeological finds dating back to the Classical, Hellenistic and Roman times.
Santa Croce Camerina and resorts
The town of Santa Croce Camerina, the site of the ruins, is nowadays a delightful seaside resort. Itself a few kilometres from the sea, the principal beach resorts here are Kaukana, Casuzze, and Punta Braccetto.
Tourists can enjoy the great culture of the past, Mediterranean sunshine and the local rich culture of fine food such as the typical “pasta with tomato” ... the crunchy biscuits, the “mustaccioli” with honey and flour, and the so-called "buccellati," sweets made from pastry filled with dried figs.
See also Kamarina history and etymology (also for citations mentioned on this page).