Cerchiara di Calabria (CS)


Cerchiara di Calabria is sheltered at the foot of Mt. Séllaro, at an altitude of 700 m. The ruined Medieval castle overlooks the town and Sibari Plain. According to some historians, the origins of the town are very ancient, dating to pre-Hellenic age. Monuments and works of art, together with evocative views and fascinating landscapes, characterize Cerchiara. Nature is colorful and bright: the grey of the rocks plunges into the shimmering colors of the plain. Season nuances shade the plain in tones of green, and the sea changes its color from intense blue to bright silver. The wide plain, that was once the land of the ancient Sybaris people, can be admired entirely till it disappears in the distance against the pre-Sila mountains, or blends south-east with Capo Trionto and Punta Alice. Archaeological relics found in the area indicate that the first settlements in Cerchiara date back to the Paleolithic period and the beginning of the Greek and Roman Age. Some scholars maintained that Cerchiara probably occupy the ancient site of Arponium. Definite evidences, however, concerns only the Byzantine period when, under the name of Ciclarium, it was the center of a very important Monastery area. As for its etymology, some people assume it derives from the oak trees that grow spontaneously in the nearby (so Querciaia (oak grove), Querciara, Cerchiara). Others believe that the origin of the name comes from the Jewish word kirkis (hot) for the presence of a sulfurous water spring, or from the Greek kirkos or Latin circus referred to the circle of mountains surrounding the town or the circular fortified walls that protected the area against Saracen raids. Cerchiara di Calabria offers visitors the possibility of walking in the countryside and hiking in the Pollino mountains. In the forest called dell'Acqua Rossa, there is an equipped area and trekking path to Mt Sellaro. The Grotta delle Ninfe (Cave of the Nymphs), an ancient health spa already renowned among Sybaris inhabitants, can be visited. The Caves of Cerchiara, instead, can be accessed by skilled hikers only.


Address Via Antonio Caputi
  87070 Cerchiara di Calabria (CS)
Phone number +39 0981 991007
Fax +39 0981 991535
Website http://www.comune.cerchiara.cs.it/


According to a legend The Grotta delle Ninfe (Cave of the Nymphs), was the dwelling of the Nymphs Lusiadi, the demigod creatures who nursed bathers’ body and soul with the spring water. The cave was renowned among Sybarites, and it is still frequented for the dermo-therapeutic characteristics of the waters.

It is impossible to skip a visit to the Orphanage of S. Maria, the ancient Monastery of Loreto and the adjoined Church of Sant’Antonio. The hamlet is the center of the village and retains its typical Medieval structure with low houses grouped around the Church of San Giacomo – of Byzantine origin but remodeled in baroque style in the 18th century –, small streets and passageways, buildings with loggias and external staircases. Little remains of the 14th-century castle apart from ruins. The Palazzo della Piana is an imposing square building with an internal courtyard, built by the Pignatelli Family from Strongoli (1600). It stands on the right of the Caldanelle small valley, at the entrance of the street climbing up to the town.

The Sanctuary of the Madonna delle Armi stands a few kilometers far from the town at about 1000 m of altitude. It is usually visited by believers from the towns along Calabria Northern Ionian Coast and Basilicata, mainly around April, 25th, that is the Madonna day. Numerous documents attest the presence of Basilian Monasteries – about 10 – in the area, together with the many natural caves that were the dwellings of the hermits. Among the most interesting caves, the following deserve to be mentioned: Abyss of the Biforco that is 683 m deep, caves of the Serra del Gufo and Antro delle Ninfe, whose waters were used by Sybarites for therapeutic purposes.