Il Parco Archeologico di Monasterace
IL PARCO ARCHEOLOGICO DELL’ANTICA KAULON
The Archeological Park of the Ancient Kaulon is located along the coast only a few kilometers from the beach and it is accessible from an underpass of state highway Jonica 106 near the Museum.
It includes the ruins of the sacred areas, the boundary walls and the houses of the polis.
The first excavations were undertaken at the beginning of the twentieth century and supervised by Archeologist Paolo Orsi. They explored the sacred area, the Doric temple and part of the walls, then in the 1950s topographic and urban studies were conducted by Schmiedt and Chevallier.
The excavation of the House of the Dragon is attributed to Alfonso De Franciscis, following his researches there were others investigating the temple, the walls and one of the residential areas.
The archeological investigations of the Ancient town of Kaulon started again only in the 1980s, thanks to the efforts of the Archeological Superintendence of Calabria in collaboration with the national scholastic system and other institutions, both Italian and foreign.
The researches made in the last decades studied almost exclusively the side of the town that oversees the sea: the temple area is being studied by the University of Pisa and the Scuola Normale Superiore; the vast complex of the Casa Matta is being investigated by the Archeological Superintendence of Calabria with the contribution of the Mediterranean University of Reggio Calabria and the University of Calabria; while the University of Florence has been investigating the northern part of the ancient residential area, known as San Marco, since 2003.
A path running parallel to the coastline, mimicking one of the main streets of the ancient city of Kaulon, allows visitors to observe the ruins of the residential area with its regular structure and its houses, preserved at the level of the foundations, starting from the buildings discovered in the area called San Marco, inhabited since the mid eight century B.C.
Here were discovered some archaic structures to whose other buildings were superimposed, the “Casa del Personaggio Grottesco” (i.e. House of the Grotesque Character) built in the classical period and then a Hellenic period house on top of it.
Continuing along the path, you get to the so-called Casa Matta (Crazy House), where they brought to light a luxe mansion that served different purposes in the course of time. In the same area you can see the ruins of a thermal complex, the so-called Thermal Baths of Nannon, boasting one of the most important and big mosaics of the Magna Graecia, the mosaic with dragons, dolphins and hippocampuses.
In the last section of the itinerary you can see the sacred area with the Doric temple of which you can distinguish the base, the altar, the stairs and other structures of sacred character.
Going back, a little road takes you to one of the most luxurious mansions of the ancient Kaulon, the House of the Dragon, where the mosaic now displayed in the museum was found.
An underway located on the opposite side from the first will now lead you to a residential area at the feet of the hill of Punta Stilo’s lighthouse.
The Archeological Park also includes a wide underwater archeological area, extending from the Doric temple to the Assi torrent, which is now submerged and under protection, and it coincides with a Hellenic period complex for the manufacturing of stone.
The village of San Marco
Inside the Archaeological Park, in the north-eastern part of the city of Kaulon, are the ruins of a church, called St. Mark’s by the local tradition.
It is a building of modest dimensions, whose apse was destroyed during the construction of the road. It retains, however, the southern perimeter wall, on which there are three little splayed windows.
The Thermal Baths of Nannon
For over a decade the investigations up area to the north of the Doric temple led to the discovery of a building of particular interest, located between the large street that runs parallel to the coastline, plateia, and two narrow streets, stenopoi. It is the Thermal Baths of Nannon. The original structure dates from the second half of the fourth century B.C. (phase I), a period marked by the presence of the population of the Brettii.
House of the Dragon
The House of the Dragon, so denominated because of the sea dragon depicted in one of its floor mosaics visible at the Archaeological Museum of Monasterace, is one of the most luxurious residences of Kaulon.
It extends on the surface of an entire lot, 17 meters by 35, typically occupied by two dwellings.
The Doric Temple Sanctuary
The Doric temple of Punta Stilo in the Archaeological Park of ancient Kaulon was discovered in the years 1912-13 by Paolo Orsi, within a complex and articulate sacred area investigated several times during the second half of the last century and object, since 1999, of annual systematic researches in collaboration with the Scuola Normale Superiore of Pisa. These latter have allowed us to ascertain a sacred use of the area.