The archeological site is situated in a strange landscape, stranded between the sea and the chimneys of the Augusta oil refinery. The Greek colony of Megara Hyblaea, founded by the Megarians of Greece in 728 BC, was twice razed to the ground: once in 483 BC by Gelon, the tyrant of Gela, and again by the Romans in 213 BC.
Excavations – The necropolis lies outside the town walls, alongside the older enclosure walls (before crossing the railway bridge, by the bend, take the dirt track off to the right). Beyond the entrance extends one of the decumani that once lead to the agorà (market-place). One of the particular characteristics of the site is the clear evidence of successive building phases as Archaic constructions give way to Hellenistic ones above. On the left of the piazza sits a sanctuary, recognisable by the semicircular north end wall. Follow D 1, a street on the left, which passes alongside a large Hellenistic house from the 4C-2C BC (entrance marked by iron steps); this comprises some 20 rooms arranged around two courtyards, a rectangular one with a well in the middle, and a second diamond-shaped one. Some rooms preserve remains of opus signinum floors (an amalgam of clay particles mixed with minute pieces of rubble, bound together with lime). In each case, the thresholds of the various internal doorways are clearly visible, together with the grooves into which fit the door jambs.
To the left of the agorà, lie the Hellenistic baths. The boiler is discernible (below the metal walkway) as is a round room used for ablutions which once would have been ringed with basins. Further along C1 (right of the baths) is a Pritaneo (where magistrates would meet) from the Archaic period (6C BC) built of characteristic square, regular-cut stones. The decumanus continues beyond the square, as far as the West Gate and fortifications from the Hellenistic period, built with regular blocks, reinforced with defence towers.
Augusta – Approx 15km north, Augusta is an important Italian commercial port concerned primarily with oil refineries and the production of “green” (lead-free) petrol. This industrial conglomeration has incurred considerable damage be it as a result of the 1693 earthquake, the Allied bombing of 1943, or, indeed following major seismic tremors as recently as 1990.
The town was founded by Frederick II on account of its strategic position with regard to defending the Bay of Augusta; hence the overpowering defensive quality of the Swabian castle, despite its neglected state of repair. The entrance to the citadel is by the Spanish Gate, flanked by two imposing bastions. The main axis of the old town is Corso Principe Umberto, the commercial thoroughfare which runs north to south.
Brucoli – 23km north of Megara Hyblaea. This charming fishing-village clusters around its picturesque little harbour which nesties in the mouth of the River Porcaria. The 15C castle (closed to the public) occupying the very tip of the headland where the viliage has grown up, enjoys a marvellous view of the harbour on one side and the ample Golfo di Brucoli on the other.