Mount Etna


Mount Etna is one of the most active and best-studied volcanoes in the world.

It is 3,329m high and has four summit craters. There is frequent lava flow. It has the highest frequency of recorded eruptions in the world (193).

This stratovolcano has been studied and monitored since the 19th century. The Roman poet Virgil gave what was probably a first-hand description of an eruption in the Aeneid.


Community Reviews

John Booth - October 2015

My journey around Mount Etna was most enjoyable. I viewed the mountain from the south, west and north, and had close up experience of crossing old lava flows. All this was in the comfort of a seat of the Circumetnea train.

I travelled from Catania to Giarre on the Circumetnea, stopping for a refreshment break at Rendezzo on the way. After Rendezzo the mountain was obscured by cloud. From Giarre I returned directly to Catania on the main line.

Joseph Colletti - October 2013

Mt. Etna is of universal value. As UNESCO notes Mt. Etna is an active volcano that yields information to scientists around the world about geological phenomena that affect millions of people, not only in Sicily but around the world. Because of Mt. Etna's activity a visit to the park can reveal different landscapes (and paths of destruction) from year to year. It has served as a proving ground for a variety of techniques to stop or divert lava flow (some successful, some not) to avoid populated areas.

The surrounding areas of the park are of a stark, stunning beauty and yes, there are some great hikes (or just walks or drives) available in the area. Many of the surrounding cities and towns are built with the volcanic rock that Etna has spewed out over the centuries.

Mt. Etna also holds a place in Western literature. In Greek and Roman mythology it's the home of Hephaestus (Vulcan in the Roman pantheon)and features prominently in Milton's Paradise Lost. It has become the background for any number of generic views of Greek theaters. (Think Woody Allen's "Mighty Aphrodite.")Possibly only second to Vesuvius in notoriety, Mt. Etna is a unique natural wonder.

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Site Info

Full name: Mount Etna

Site History


The site has 1 locations.

  • Mount Etna


The site has 18 connections.


  • Lava tubes 
  • Notable Trees The Hundred Horse Chestnut (Castagno dei Cento Cavalli) is the largest and oldest known chestnut tree in the world. It is located on Linguaglossa road in Sant'Alfio, on the eastern slope of Mount Etna (wiki)
  • Stratovolcanoes 
  • Volcanic Hotspots 


Human Activity

  • Astronomy and Astrology "The nominated property includes very little infrastructure: ........ and an observatory. Funding has been secured for a complete overhaul of the observatory which is scheduled to start in 2013" IUCN eval
  • Scientific Developments "The almost continuous eruptive activity of Mount Etna continues to influence volcanology, geophysics and other Earth science disciplines." (AB ev)

Individual People

  • Posidonius Mount Aetna covers the fields around Catana in ash-dust.
  • Rabban Bar Sauma he witnessed and recorded the great eruption of Mount Etna on June 18, 1287 (wiki)


  • Middle Pleistocene About 300,000 years ago, volcanism began occurring to the southwest of the summit (centre top of volcano) then, before activity moved towards the present centre 170,000 years ago. (Wiki)


  • Fatal Accidents or 'disasters' 6 tourists killed during eruption in 1979
  • Star Wars This active volcano was used as the background for the light saber battle between Obi-Wan Kenobi and Anakin Skywalker in “Star Wars Episode III: Revenge Of The Sith.” During filming, Mount Edna erupted and George Lucas sent his team to film the lava flows.

WHS Hotspots

WHS on Other Lists

  • Biodiversity hotspot Mediterranean Basin
  • Decade Volcanoes 
  • Natura 2000 In addition, nine Natura 2000 sites overlap the nominated property to various degrees, providing additional protection for 77% of the nominated area under European legislation. (AB ev)

World Heritage Process