Calabria boasts almost 800 km of coast washed by the waters of the Tyrrhenian, of the Strait of Messina and then, on the opposite side, by the Ionian Sea.
Castles and watch towers are also characteristic sights along the Tyrrhenian coast, starting from the one built by Charles V at Amantea, a fortress town that was later embellished by the Franciscans who left several traces of their presence, the most outstandig of which is the church of San Bernardino da Siena (1436).
On the Ionic coast there were three city states and three ancient civilization: Sibari, Crotone and Locri. They shared the same roots in Magna Graecia, being founded by Greek colonists between the 7th and the 6th century B.C., and for a long time they were in conflict with one anotehr: Kroton won the day over Sybaris, buth the succumbed, in the battle of the fair, to Locri Epizephiri. But in the intervals between the battles, wiht the inevitable intervention of various divinities, there were long periods of plendour in the arts and in philosophy. Pythagoras founded his school at Crotone, while at Locri Zaleucus dictated his laws, creating the first written code of laws in the Western World. The most prestigious gymnasiums of the Olympic athletes of the time were at Sibari and it was here that Strabo dictated the example that historians were to follow: "seventy days were enough to destroy the rich and famous town. In 572 B.C. the people of Croton defeated those of Sibari".
In the early 1980s a famous archaeological find became the symbol of Calabria: the Riace Bronzes. They are the two stupendous Greek statues dredged from the sea and exhibited, from the early 1980s, in the Museo Nazionale della Magna Grecia in Reggio Calabria, one of the most important archaeological museums of all the Italian Peninsula. One of the two bronze statues is attributed to Fidia, the master Greek sculptor of the Vth century and famous for the reliefs of the Parthenon. Since their exposure at the Museo Nazionale hundreds of thousands of visitors arrived in Calabria to discover the marvellous archaeological and historical patrimony of this region.
Contents courtesy of: ENIT National Italian Tourist Board
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