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Excursion to the Archaeological Park of Neapolis in Syracuse
A bit of history
Syracuse with its 3,000 years of history is one of the most important cities in Sicily. Think that in its heyday it was the largest city in the ancient world, bigger than Athens and Corinth just to give an example. It was founded by the Corinthians. Thanks to its access to the sea, the city experienced a phase of rapid development and became an important center of trade and commerce. After the victorious battle of Imera against the Carthaginians in 480 BC, a period of great growth began, not only material but also cultural and humanistic. Numerous artists arrived in the city who gave a driving force to the artistic development and the construction of various public works. Independence lasted until 211 BC. when it was conquered by the Romans. From that moment on, a slow but inexorable decline began. For a short time it was the capital of the Byzantine Empire, but following the raids and looting of the Saracens in 878 AD, the population abandoned the city. In the following centuries it underwent series of Byzantine, Arab, Norman, Swabian, Aragonese and Spanish dominations. After the earthquake in the Val di Noto in 1693, an urban redevelopment and reconstruction plan of the most important buildings in the Baroque style began in the city.

The park was built in the 1950s and within its perimeter there are numerous classical monuments from the Greek and Roman eras. In the green spaces, cypresses, palms, oleanders and holm oaks grow.

Roman amphitheater
A few tens of meters after having crossed the entrance gate of the park, in front of the small church of San Nicolò dei Cordari stands the Roman Amphitheater. On the path that leads to the belvedere, sarcophagi from the necropolis of Syracuse and Megara Hyblaea have been placed.

Roman amphitheater

The amphitheater was built during the imperial age between the 2nd and 4th century AD, has an elliptical shape and the balustrades of the nobles are in marble. It was largely destroyed by the Spaniards in the sixteenth century, as they were little interested in the archaeological value.

Altar of Hiero II
Just beyond the amphitheater is a large expanse where a large rock altar stands.

It was built by Hiero II (or Ierone) in the III century BC. and during ceremonies it was used for animal sacrifice.

Greek theatre
Completely excavated in the rock, it has a cavea with a diameter of 138 meters and was capable of holding about 15,000 spectators. It was enlarged at the behest of Hiero II in the 3rd century BC. based on an earlier theater from the 5th century.

Syracuse what to see in one day

Greek theatre

At the foot of the steps stands the orchestra and in front of it the vast area of the stage, where the scenes took place. Some parts of the entire structure were dismantled by Charles V starting from 1526, to obtain the materials necessary to fortify the island of Ortigia. Sit on the bleachers to admire the panorama that surrounds you, treat yourself to a moment of relaxation in the shade under the plants of the garden that develops in front of the grandstands.

Latomia of Paradise
This large limestone quarry, up to 45 meters deep, can be reached via dirt and gravel paths flanked by a well-kept hedge. On the sides of the path, lemon trees and beautiful at night.

Ear of Dionysius
The Ear of Dionysius is an artificial cave 65 meters long, 23 high and with a width ranging from 5 to 11 meters, famous for its acoustics. The name is obviously due to the shape and was given by Caravaggio in 1608. Legend has it that Dionisio used the cave as a prison. Thanks to the particular acoustics, he positioned himself high up and listened to the words that the prisoners exchanged in a low voice.

After crossing the Ponte Nuovo on the dock you enter the island of Ortigia. The visit must be done absolutely on foot. Interesting buildings overlook the maze of alleys, with wrought-iron balcony railings and Venetian-style window shutters.

Visit to the island of Ortigia

Temple of Apollo
On the adjacent square Largo XXV Luglio, delimited by a low wall, stand the ruins of the Temple of Apollo. Built between the end of the 7th and the beginning of the 6th century BC. it is considered the oldest example of a Doric temple in Sicily. The base, some trunks of columns and a part of the wall of the cell.

The Temple of Apollo in Syracuse

The Temple of Apollo

The seaside
The excursion continues on the splendid seafront.

In the distance the unmistakable dome of the Sanctuary of the Madonna delle Lacrime, which emerges behind palaces and buildings.

The waterfront of Syracuse

Panorama of Syracuse

Papyrus Museum

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