Friday, March 06, 2015

Aug 2013: Climbing the Rock over Cefalu

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as usual, the fam is fast asleep and this day I decided to go climb that rock. Nobody else is mad enough to join Baba on his treks. There’s the rock where I need to be. Right on top. Did the same thing with Arthur’s Seat in Edinburgh.

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quiet beach

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the Norman Cathedral is highlighted. My idea was to get to the top in time for sunrise, but best laid plans of mice and men..

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Walking through quiet empty streets.

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Passing a plate

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I start climbing

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pine cones

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support or blasting holes

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another view

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that’s a tall cliff

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I love these prickly pear fruit.

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the town of Cefalu starts to open up behind me

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looking back at the stairs..

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a Fortress was built here. this is the outermost wall and here’s the bloody gate which stops me from going further inside. So much for my idea for being up the mountain by the time the sun rises. So I sit around like a frikking idiot.

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looking at ants

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over the view

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at a ledge off on the right.

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strange holes in the rock

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and rock restraints …. to make sure the damn Rock doesn't fall down on the town.

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we are then let into the fortress by this gentleman who takes down our details. Just in case we conk off and they have to call our next of kin, lol

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So I quote from a little sign:

The ancient Greeks referred to the ROck as Kephaloidion: Head Shaped Promontory. Mythology has it that the handsome shepherd Daphnis, a Mediterranean deity who embodied the vital spirit of nature and was devoted to bucolic singing and not to carnal love, was blinded by Echenais, a nymph in love with him, in a fit of jealousy and vengeful rage. Ultimately, Daphnis allowed himself to die and was then transformed into the Rock of Cefalu by the Goddess Aphrodite. Another charming legend says that Heracles, touched by the enchanting beauty of the place, decided to use his strength to help its inhabitants flatten the ground where the settlement of Kephadoidion, enclosed within an imposing system of fortifications the Rock was part of, would eventually spring up.

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Pirates in the form of Vandals and then Saracens would constantly attack the settlement below, so they upped sticks and moved on the Rock behind walls to protect themselves. These walls date back to the Byzantine Period 7-8th century AD. Still the Arabs besieged the town for many moons till it surrendered in 857 AD.

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here are the remains of the guard room at the first wall. 

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with a beady eyed pigeon looking at me balefully.

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moving up, painfully. 

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and passing cliffs

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I reach the second wall with a fortified gateway. I am now about 135 meters above sea level. This wall encircled the entire rock and closed by a giant wooden door, you can see the hinge on the right hand side wall.

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this was a contained the body of a short man but with no other grave goods.


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I turn right.  

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after a look to the left

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and back

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still climbing

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looking up to the rock

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looking back

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a path goes off to the right

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hello Mr.. lizard

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still climbing and looking across at this little stone structure…

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looking back

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I'm now higher than that little stone structure

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and I reach the top and third wall. 

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a rock pool to catch water.

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the top of the keep. The castle seen above dates back to Roger II, 11-12th century AD.

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not much left of the was destroyed in a fire in the late 13th century. 

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here are the walls which go around the rock

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Another view of Cefalu

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fossils..from deep below the sea, and now on top of a rock. Remember we are in volcanic territory

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looking back

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looking right.

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looking right and down

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hmmmm, i wonder what that little peninsula is all about? maybe i can pop in?

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Some more views from the top, as I scrambled to the highest point of the rock.

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and then this stretch of repaired wall.

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I leant over the wall to see the cliff

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I walk around the wall till I come to this little hut. And strangely I had an immediate flashback. I was almost feeling like a Byzantine soldier, who would be based here in this little hut. His job is to be on the lookout for Saracen pirates or navies who come sailing over the horizon to attack. Lovely view, but it would be a cold and lonely job, with nobody to speak to. I leant my elbows on the sill and pressed my forehead on the rusted iron grating, what would you think about? his family back in some tiny village in Montenegro? or maybe he came from the highlands of Cappadocia? Or did he come from Spain? maybe he was pulled in from a hamlet in the river Po valley in upper Italy. Where he knows his wife and 4 kids are. Where his family are tilling the stony ground. And while he's standing here. Hitching up his heavy armour. No, he wouldn't wear armour up here, but he will try to wrap his blanket closer to himself and look down at the gladius leaning against the wall.

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Well, not much to see so i start on heading down.

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hmmm, somebody went out of breath here.

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walking down the path

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It was quite hot and i was sweating like nuts. truly perspiring like crazy..and I've got to get to that little stone structure

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little leaves and dried leaves

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for some reason, that little stone structure is so calling me…

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I was up there… 

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I reach the little stone structure, its a casemate, a place for storing stuff during the middle ages..maybe for ammo as well.

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to my right, the second wall appears

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with this ammo dump

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and planes in the sky

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more ants in the ground..

I leave the area and keep walking down, the heat was serious and I was now down to my last 200ml of water and I still had to see one more thing

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Just where I turned right on the second wall, if i move left, there is a little village. this is where the villagers used to live who also supported the castle on the top. 

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you can see the remains of the habitation

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with a great view of the rear valley.

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a little Byzantine church dedicated to St. Venera

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and a cistern.

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And then we come to something that was extraordinary. This is the Temple of Diana. Dating back to the 5-6c BC. Giant blocks carved out and made into this building. A cistern is nearby and archaeologists think this related to worship of water. It then became a lookout point.

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an alcove on the left and what looks like the remains of a circular tower on the right.

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barrel vaulting.

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amazing construction

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but the doorway isn't worn away at all, this is curious. If this is dating back to 5th century BC, i would have expected to see much more weathering and wearing.

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see how amazingly well the stones have been arranged. how much physical labour would have been required.

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hmmm, the edges are too fine, i am not sure if this is ancient or this has been recently restored.

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the cistern.

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the little church.

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these are the remains of the 3rd circular wall.

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and a giant cross, which is illuminated at night and can be seen from miles around.  photo 297-IMG_8308_zpsgk2ilbpq.jpg 

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views of the Norman era Cathedral photo 289-IMG_8284_zpsf4kf86qd.jpg

and the azure sea

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crystal clear waters. 

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such a lovely sight.

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keep on walking down the battlements and come to the giant cross.

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somebody’s little dingy is moored in the bay.

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there’s the castle.

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i keep on walking down..there’s the main gate

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I reach it

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walking down the steps.

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a cute little water pump, sadly defunct now…i could have done with a drink

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there’s the battlements where I walked.

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lovely sight.

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the windows with the balconies had these curtains, nice idea, eh? keeps the breeze flowing but also avoids the glare of the sun into the house

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and I reach the hotel…the beach is now jammed.

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we jump into the pool where somebody has fun irrigating me. I tell you, no respect whatsoever.

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spend couple of hours in the pool.

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and there’s the rock at sunset. It was a good walk. I liked it. but the heat was bad, i was struggling but what the hell, fun times.

Some more photos of the rock from later days

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that’s the rock from the other side. Giant e.g.?

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and there’s the rock from the air…

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