The promontory of Capo Colonna, where the only surviving column of the ancient Temple of Hera Lacinia can be found, is also located within the territory.
The town is often referred to as the City of Pythagoras owing to this Greek philosopher's arrival in Kroton in around 530 BC. He created a school of knowledge, science, mathematics, and music in the town.
Important pieces of the ancient city’s past have been unearthed by numerous excavations carried out in recent years and many artefacts are now preserved in the Archaeological Museum.
The city extends across marine terraces, alluvial plains, sandstone ramparts, and tabular reliefs, from where it overlooks a clay-rippled sea.
Visitors to the historic centre can admire important testaments of the city’s glorious past. The old town is home to many buildings that, despite often being dilapidated, are distinctive, charming, and worthy of admiration.
With its noble palazzos and artistic churches, the old town extends inland from the mighty Castle of Carlo V, The Castle of Charles V a vast Spanish fortress built in the 16th century with logistical and military purposes. The castle is the starting point of the great wall (of which several sections are still clearly visible today) which encloses old Crotone, protecting it behind its mighty ramparts.
Among the most famous landmarks, the Castle of Charles V as well as the Duomo, which houses valuable artefacts, can be found in the old part of the city.
Walking through the historic centre you will encounter age-old noble buildings and historical churches, such as the Church of the Immacolata, which was built in 1554 and subsequently enlarged in 1738.
Just a stone’s throw from the Church of the Immacolata is the Church of Santa Chiara with adjoining convent, which internally features a beautiful Neapolitan majolica flooring. The small Church of San Giuseppe, a 17th-century building embellished with baroque stuccoes, can be found between the Immacolata and Santa Chiara churches.
The territory of Crotone offers very varied landscapes including precious marine areas that can be found just around the corner from the mountains and heavenly, natural oases.
The marine area of Capo Rizzuto is the largest in Italy, with an area of around 15 thousand hectares of sea. Eight promontories can be found in the protected area, the first of which is that of Capo Colonna, a true archaeological gem and symbol of the ancient splendours of Magna Graecia. It is here that the only Doric style column of the famous temple dedicated to the goddess Hera Lacinia can be found.
Another coastal destination is Punta Le Castella, the last rampart of the reserve, which features a Byzantine fortress located on the islet which is also the birthplace of Ugurk-ali, commander of the imperial fleet of Constantinople.
The province also boasts many areas of geological interest as well as expansive natural spaces such as Montagnella Park, which encompasses the Giglietto Valley and the summit of Mount Pizzuta, and Sila National Park. The forests and woods of Sila form a priceless part of the heritage of Crotone, and indeed of the whole of Calabria.
The area of Sila Crotonese is home to Villaggio Palumbo, one of the region’s most prolific places in terms of history and folklore. The area benefits from stunning scenery ranging from views over Lake Ampollino, which promises enjoyable adventures aboard a canoe or pedalo , to an immense forest. Meanwhile, Villaggio Principe, situated at an altitude of 1479 metres, is surrounded by pine and beech woods complemented by a spectacular undergrowth.
The figure of the Greek Pythagoras is shrouded in the mists of legend.
He lived in the 6th century BC and was a Greek philosopher, mathematician, thaumaturge, astronomer, scientist, and politician.
He is remembered as the historical founder of the school bearing his name, where mathematical theories and their application, such as the well-known Pythagorean theorem, were developed. His way of thinking also played an important role in the development of Western science, because he was the first person to understand the usefulness of mathematics in explaining the world.
His move from Greece to Crotone is a date that has gone down in history, as his famous philosophical school was later considered the birthplace of so-called Italic philosophy.
Disciples of Pythagoras lived in a community organised and regulated by the laws of their master, where they studied the four disciplines of music, arithmetic, geometry, and astronomy. The Pythagoreans were the first to establish a school of higher education that was remarkably similar to today's universities.
The promontory of Capo Colonna, located just south of Crotone, is a true treasure chest of Calabria's archaeology and historical art. It is also home to the Archaeological Park of the same name, which is undoubtedly the most impressive in the whole of Calabria.
At entrance of the park is the Capo Colonna Archaeological Museum where the latest artefacts found in the adjacent excavation area are displayed. The Tower of Capo Nao, a broad, 16th-century Spanish building housing the Capo Nao Antiquarium, is located within the Archaeological Park.
In addition to being a historical site of great artistic and archaeological value, the promontory of Capo Colonna houses the small and charming church of Latin rite in which the Madonna di Capo Colonna is venerated. Every year the largest religious procession in Calabria brings thousands of pilgrims from the Cathedral of Crotone to the small church inside the Archaeological Park.
The Castle of Charles V, also known as the Castle of Crotone, is a rudimentary fortress built in 840 AD with the stylistic lines of the ancient Greek Acropolis. It was built to defend the city against foreign invasion.
Like so much of Italy's architectural heritage, the Castle of Charles V has survived after several centuries marked by profound structural changes that bear the hallmarks of the city’s various rulers.
Today, the castle of Crotone houses the municipal library as well as the civic museum, and also hosts important cultural events. The entrance to the castle is located in the present-day Piazza Castello and is accessed via a bridge that is partly fixed in masonry and partly a wooden drawbridge. The main door was built into a truncated-pyramid shaped terrace that overlooked the curtain walls between the two entrance towers and the moat in front.
From the perfectly preserved Commander's Tower, which is now used as a museum space, the large southern curtain wall extends towards the coast, ending with the mighty rampart of San Giacomo that stretches down to the sea. The rampart was strategically valuable because it overlooked the port of Crotone and the surrounding marina, providing shelter to the troops.
Inside the castle, the Helper's tower, similar to the Commander’s Tower, was used as the officers' residence. Nowadays, it is an atmospheric museum space where exhibitions, shows and cultural meetings are held.
The Marchesana Tower, with a circular base armed with four cannons, was an excellent observation post and also served as a prison for the convicts who built the port and repaired the castle.
Crotone is home to many churches and sacred buildings which embody the town’s deeply-rooted religious spirit.
The town's Cathedral is thought to have been built in the 9th century. Over the centuries the church has undergone various restoration works and in the 16th century it was completely rebuilt using materials removed from the ancient temple of Hera Lacinia. The inside of the church consists of three naves divided by pillars. The impressive Cathedral houses the Chapel of the Madonna di Capo Colonna which displays the icon of the Madonna di Capo Colonna, also known as the "Madonna Nera” (Black Madonna) because of the dark colour with which her complexion is painted. The chapel is richly decorated with stuccoes and frescoes which tell the story of the discovery of the Holy Image and the miraculous events caused by the intercession of the Black Madonna. Also particularly noteworthy is the Baptismal Font located of the Epiphany Chapel, which dates back to the thirteenth century.
The Church of the Most Holy Saviour is one Crotone’s many historic churches. In 1783 it was damaged by the earthquake, rebuilt from scratch and extended to its present day size. Before this date, the capstone of the facade displayed the wavy pattern that characterised many other churches of the vice-regal period.
The Church of the Immaculata dates back to 1554, when it consisted of a modest temple with a crypt underneath. An elegant new church was built in 1758 which was later enlarged and consecrated.
Also worth a special mention is the crypt which is accessed through a wooden seventeenth-century door consisting of two arches that lead into the current chapel. Cornices in local tufa stone and flooring in terracotta painted red are among some of the most interesting features of the chapel. The room itself contains a door and slabs of glass and iron which, across three steps, enclose the 409 skulls of the brothers of the Brotherhood. On the highest body at the right side there is a wooden sculpture representing the Crucified Christ. This is one of the very few depictions of Christ in the world in which he is portrayed with his eyes open just before he dies.
The Church of Santa Maria Prothospatariis, which dates back to the 15th century, is one of the oldest in Crotone.
The church, with a single nave, has an elongated shape with a semi-circular apse. The main facade features a tufa stone portal above which a continuous-line entablature is decorated with floral motifs and supported by side corbels. A stained glass rose window can be admired just above.
The Church of Santa Chiara is part of the monastic complex of the same name, whose original structures date back to the end of 1300 (although the current building features additions made in 1700 and early 1800).
This baroque-style church was consecrated in 1774, as stated on a marble plaque at the entrance. The convent housed the daughters of the noble families of Crotone, as evidenced by the many noble coats of arms affixed to each gift given to the monastery. The church of Santa Chiara is the jewel in the crown of the city’s historic centre, especially given the historical richness of its contents. Some of its most important artefacts include a wardrobe containing a pipe organ built in 1753 by Tommasio De Martino, organ builder of the Royal Chapel of Naples, and the wooden shutters of the choir which enclosed the cloister of the Poor Clares.
The museum was founded in 1968 and is located on Via Risorgimento, in the heart of the old town centre. This two-storey building houses all the most significant finds from the archaeological sites of the entire area of Crotone. Perhaps the museum’s most precious archaeological finds come from the Sanctuary of Hera Lacinia located in Capo Colonna.
On the ground floor, the area dedicated to the prehistoric age exhibits axes and lithic weapons, as well as agricultural tools. The Iron Age is also well documented with a display of lavish funerary objects and artefacts from the provincial area of Crotone as well as objects from the field of Greek vase production, including vases and amphorae of rare craftsmanship whose beauty is differentiated according to origin.
On the first floor, the extensive section dedicated to the "treasures of Hera Lacinia” is particularly fascinating. This votive room exhibits objects of the highest artistic value which were unearthed in the Archaeological Park of Capo Colonna. Masterpieces such as a winged sphinx, a gorgon, and a small Nuragic boat are included in this collection. Perhaps the most impressive exhibit is the Diadema Aureo, also known as the "crown of Hera", a magnificent artefact consisting of a gold foil band shaped into a decorative braid on the inside and a line of leaves and berries supported by braided threads on the outside.
Other sections are dedicated to various sanctuaries in the area, including that of Apollo Aleo in Krimisa, the Doric temple of Kaulonia, and an area of worship in Punta Stilo.
Recently, a 5th-century bronze askos depicting a mermaid with a bird's body and a woman's head has been added to the museum's collection. In 1992, this very precious artefact which was found during an undercover excavation in Strongoli ended up in the Paul Getty Museum in Malibu, California.
Opened in 2002, the Museum of Capo Colonna is located in the Park of the same name.
The museum is spread over a single floor and is divided into three exhibition areas: the Earth, which preserves artefacts that were found during the period of Roman domination; the Sacred, which is dedicated to the remains of the sacred area of the Santuario; and the Sea, which displays underwater treasures.
Among the most valuable exhibits on display are a 5th-century Corinthian bronze helmet, a piece of stone anchor engraved with a dedication by Phayllos, one of the most famous Croatian athletes, to Zeus Meilichios, and a small marble sculpture representing Cupid and Psyche which was found in the waters just off the coast of Crotone. The building is also surrounded by the garden of Hera which contains pear, apple, lily, myrtle, and pomegranate trees between the entrance halls.
The Park is located just a few kilometres from the city, on the promontory of Capo Colonna. The area consists of thirty hectares of land used for excavations and twenty hectares of woodland and Mediterranean scrub. Capo Colonna was once the location of one of the most important sacred areas of the entire Mediterranean basin: the sanctuary dedicated to Hera Lacinia, the wife and sister of Zeus and protectress of pastures, women, female fertility, family, and marriage.
Many of the objects found in the excavation area are housed in the National Archaeological Museum of Crotone. The finds from the archaic age and the precious Treasure of Hera Lacinia are particularly valuable. Among the items on display are votive objects, fragments of architectural decorations in marble and terracotta, and fragments of sculptures, all of which date back to the archaic age. An inscribed memorial stone commemorating the sanctuary’s belonging to Hera Eleytheria as well as a Roman age sculpture of Eros and Psyche which was found in the sea at Capo Colonna can also be admired.
The new museum of Capo Colonna, located at the entrance of the Archaeological Park, displays many exhibits that were discovered in the local area.
The museum is currently located in the Sottocampana Barracks and the Commander’s Tower of the Castle, the latter being used only for temporary exhibitions.
Of its three exhibition halls, the first mainly displays ceramic fragments of floor tiles and crockery from southern Italy which were found during excavations carried out in the old town centre and in the district of Crotone. Also on display are a considerable number of clay pipettes found at the Castle and two decorative pieces of a 14th-century portal from an old farmhouse located between Cutro and Papanice.
The second room displays numismatic artefacts among which one particular highlight is a bulla, a small round object generally containing an amulet that can be worn as a necklace pendant. There are also hunting daggers and locally made swords dated between the 18th and 19th centuries. A large number of ceramics from Gerace, Seminara and Squillace are also on display. The ceramics from Seminara, in particular, are characterised by their rich colours, plasticity, and their depictions of malevolent figures.
The promontory of Capo Colonna is also home to some of the most beautiful beaches in Crotone, such as that of Punta Scifo, with its fine red sand and shallow and sandy seabed, and the vast beach of Campione, which is surrounded by a sublime landscape that forms part of the Marine Protected Area of Capo Rizzuto.
Also slightly further afield from the city and in close proximity to Capo Colonna is the sandy beach of Irto which, despite its stunning scenery, is relatively uncongested. The most popular beaches are, of course, the ones in the city which stretch southwards along the seafront from the pier of the Porto Vecchio.
Stretching in a northwards direction, however, are the beaches of Gabella which are characterised by their white sand, long beaches and high, sandy seabeds. This coastal area is often swept by the gregale wind and the north wind, which makes it particularly popular among kitesurfing enthusiasts.
Among the most popular natural and historical-cultural attractions is the area surrounding the former Cutro-Crotone-Papanice railways. Its tunnels are still intact and in the spring you may well catch a glimpse of herons and coots. As you make your way across the woods you will be able to admire uncontaminated springs and the famous granite rocks of Fosso Iannace.
Hiking in the National Park is an opportunity not to be missed by photography, birdwatching, and nature enthusiasts.
River Trekking will allow you to fully immerse yourself in the wild and uncontaminated natural environments. The treks follow the riverbed of the torrents and head in the opposite direction to the current. Some treks, such as as those in the low gorges of Tacina, the Migliarite, and the Senapite, are extremely challenging and are designed for experienced and trained hikers.
Meanwhile, lovers of the sea can explore underwater trails where they can discover the flora and fauna of the Protected Area of Capo Rizzuto Island and the unique seabed of the coastline extending from Cirò Marina to Capo Piccolo.
In Crotone you will have the opportunity to sample a wide variety of local products such as Butirro, a small caciocavallo cheese with butter enclosed inside it, and the renowned Pecorino Crotonese, a hard cheese produced exclusively with milk from the Gentile breed of sheep. Among the typical first courses you should definitely try the cavateddri or the maccarruni, two varieties of homemade pasta which are usually accompanied by a pork ragu and fish soup.
In terms of desserts you will find Pitta da Madonna and sanguinazzu.
However, the most well-known product in the province of Crotone is undoubtedly Cirò, the most famous Calabrian PDO wine which is produced in Red, Rosé, and White varieties in the municipalities of Cirò, Cirò Marina, Melissa, and Crucoli.