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World Heritage Site

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Mount Etna

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.

Map of Mount Etna


  • Natural

Community Reviews

Joel Baldwin Australia - 03-Aug-18 -

It's hard to even know where to start with a colossal site like Mount Etna. We decided to base ourselves in the town of Trecastagni, and as luck would have it, our Airbnb host recommended a fantastic local guide, a Sicilian named Dario Vaghi. We'd hoped to do some hiking and really explore the upper reaches of Etna, but unfortunately the day we visited there was a heavy blizzard near the top and the cable car wasn't running! No problem for Dario - he knew several other fascinating spots for us to visit and explore. As you can see from the video, we really got to explore all the different facets of Etna: its climates, ecosystems and various habitats. What a magnificent spot.

Read more from Joel Baldwin here.

John booth New Zealand - 01-Oct-15

Mount Etna by John Booth

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 USA - 07-Oct-13

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

Unesco ID: 1427

Inscribed: 2013

Type: Natural

Criteria: 8  

Link: By Name By ID

Site History

  • 2013 - Inscribed 


The site has 1 locations.

  • Mount Etna


The site has 19 connections.



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

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


  • 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 Link
  • 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.
  • Featured in the Go Jetters: Series 1: Episode 16: Mount Etna

WHS Hotspots

WHS on Other Lists

  • Decade Volcanoes
  • Biodiversity hotspot: Mediterranean Basin
  • 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


187 community members have visited Mount Etna.