6 days in Sicily-09/24 - 09/29/2017

Day 4-Neapolis Archaeological Park , Syracuse-09/27/2017


Breakfast Roman Theater/Catania Food market/Apollo Temple Duomo Square Archaeological Park Greek & Roman Theater

We are now entering the Neapolis archaeological park containing Syracuse's most important ancient Greek monuments and part of the UNESCO world heritage list. Inside the park you will see some of the most impressive ancient monuments in Sicily including the Greek Theater, the altar of Hieron, the stone quarries known as "latomie" and the legendary "Ear of Dionysius". 


The park is well kept and has magnificent view of the hilltop.


This vast archaeological park contains Siracusa's greatest concentration of ruins.

It's divided into three main sections: the latomie (stone quarries), the Greek theater, and the Roman amphitheater, all of which you can see in about two to three hours.

We are starting our visit with the Latomie area (stone quarries).



Altar of Hieron, sacrificial altar, 3rd century or the Great Altar of Syracuse is a monumental grand altar in the ancient quarter of the park. It was built in the Hellenistic period by King Hiero II and is the largest altar known from antiquity.

Almost nothing except the foundations of the structure survive today. The structure was partly built from masonry blocks and partially carved from the living bedrock.

This is the largest altar known from the ancient world.


We are now entering the garden located in the Latomia del Paradiso (Paradise Quarry). this former limestone quarry is now a very green and peaceful area that is filled with lemon and orange trees.



All the vegetation is amazing, the trees provide wonderful shade!  Perfect for a hot summer day.


The Quarries

There are a total of three stone quarries inside the Latomia del Paradiso: Grotta Dei Cordari, Latomia Dei Capuccini, and the most famous one is the most famous quarries is the Ear of Dionysus.


Latomia Dei Capuccini

According to the brochure for the site this is the largest at 23,000mē, deepest 30-40 meters and oldest at 6th century BC of the quarries in Siracusa. It was a quarry, prison then a Christian Cemetery, which was then turned into a garden by the Capuchins friars who owned the latomia from 1582-1866

 In this quarry, however, about 7,000 prisoners from the war against Athens found an inglorious death in a labor camp in 425 B.C.




Latomia, is a Greek word, derived from lithos and temnos, "cut stones". The first stone cutters appear to have been active in the sixth century BCE, and work has continued for many centuries.



Weathered, partly formed limestone rocks with a variety of plants create a picturesque, romantic image.


Ear of Dionysius



The most famous quarry is a huge cave called the Ear of Dionysius (Orecchio di Dionisio). The cave was named by Italian painter Caravaggio after the Greek tyrant Dionysius I, who ruled Syracuse from 432 to 367 B.C. According to legend, Dionysius used the cave as a prison, spying on his captives from the small opening at the top of the cave where even whispers from the cavern below could be clearly heard.



The Ear of Dionysius is a limestone cave carved out of the Temenites. Its name comes from its similarity in shape to the human ear.



The entrance of the cave.


The Ear of Dionysius was most likely formed out of an old limestone quarry. It is 23 meters high and extends 65 meters back into the cliff. Horizontally, it bends in an approximate "S" shape, vertically it is tapered at the top like a teardrop. Because of its shape the Ear has extremely good acoustics, making even a small sound resonate throughout the cave.



This cave was dug in Greek/Roman times as a water storage for Syracuse. A narrow tunnel was dug first and then the tunnel was widened by digging down and sideways, giving the cave its unusual shape. The cave is believed to have been hewn from an ancient limestone quarry. Some, however, speculate that the unique shape was formed from natural rather than man made and is preserved in its original state due to reverence for the strange acoustics which were perceived as sacred.


The small narrow tunnel is still visible on the top of this artificial cave. An earthquake struck this area causing damage, and the cave became unusable for water storage afterwards.



The third cave nearby, the Grotta dei Cordari (the rope maker's grotto),now closed for security reasons. Rope makers worked here for centuries.



Garden in the Latomia




Beautiful passage..



Passage way leading to a beautiful garden.


Small house on top of the hill.

We are now passing by the Latomia Dei Capuccini

In the center of the Latomia Dei Capuccini there is a tall rock formation that looks like the head of dragon to me.


Close look at the rock formation.

Trees in the garden, not sure what type of berries they are.




We are now leaving the quarries..


We are heading toward the Greek theater.


Next...Day 4-Greek Theater




Our house


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