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Approx. 40km eastwards, at the top of a 280m high cliff lies Tíndari, the ancient Tyndaris, and at its feet the amazing “Mare Secco” (dry sea), strips of white sandy beach contrasting with the blue of small sea ponds – an enchanting lagoon. The archaeological site of Tyndaris and the pilgrimage church of the “Black Madonna” are both situated on top of the rock - featuring a unique panorama of the sea and the Aeolian Islands.

Tyndaris was one of the most recent Greek colonies of the islands, founded by Dionysios I of Syracuse in 396 B.C. to safeguard the north coast against Carthaginian attacks. The town grew quickly and soon had more than 5,000 citizens. During the Roman period it blossomed once again – as witnessed by the large number of buildings from that time, but was destroyed by the Saracens in 836.

Among the interesting findings are parts of the basilica and the town-wall, a picturesque gate, mosaic pavements of an ancient villa and the magnificently situated theatre, where Greek tragedies are performed in June. According to legend the wooden statue of the Black Virgin Mary is of oriental origin and came to Sicily from Constantinople in the eighth or ninth centuries. It is said to have miraculous powers and a chapel, the “Sanctuary of the Madonna Nera” was built, which was destroyed by pirates in the 16th century and replaced by a new one. The present church, the dome of which can be seen from afar, is a new building erected in the 1950s only and attracts pilgrims from all over Sicily.

The main festival in honour of the Black Madonna takes place on 8 September.