Europe

Discovering Syracuse and Ortigia Island

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The archaeological park of Neapolis is located in the upper part of Syracuse, and consists of three parts: the greek theater, he Roman amphitheater and the latomia. The Greek theater is one of the largest in the world and it is said that Plato gave a speech there about his idea of ​​the Republic, although he did not like the tyrant of the city very much. The Roman amphitheater is full of weeds and is not very spectacular, and finally, the latomia was a huge quarry from which it was extracted four million cubic meters of material for the building and that later also served as prison and of workshop to manufacture ropes. This area is the supposed tomb of Archimedes.

With the € 9 ticket you have access to theater Yet the latomia of paradise When we entered the theater, we saw that they were preparing a performance and were doing lighting tests. The choir area was covered with a parquet and the back of the stage was decorated with a wooden wall that was part of the scenery. In addition, part of the stone bleachers were covered with more uniform and smoother wooden bleachers. Therefore, we could not contemplate the ancient theater in all its splendor, although it is positive that it is still used to represent classical dramas.

On the stands are a series of tombs carved into the rock and also the Ninfeo, a spring of water where the actors met before starting the play. In ancient times, the bottom of the stage was the fabulous landscape of the Mediterranean Sea, which is still seen above the tops of the pines.

According to the latomia, now it is a small park with paths surrounded by vegetation that lead to an artificial cave with a very high roof which Caravaggio called “the ear of Dionysus” and which was used as a sound screen in some theatrical performances. To the side there is another cave called “de las candeleras” where these artisans had once worked to take advantage of the humidity of the cave in the manufacture of ropes. In the middle of the park stands a huge natural stone pillar. Maybe the Greeks dug all the rock around them? Well, actually, you want to dig the rock were slaves, often prisoners of war, like the Athenians defeated in the battle of Syracuse.

The € 9 entry also includes a visit to the Paolo Orsi archaeological museum, which contains sculptures found in the Siracusa excavations, but we do not enter due to lack of museum interest from half of our team. Next time will be…

By carelessness, we did not get to visit the area of ​​the ancient necropolis, attached to the latomía, where, according to some guides, is the tomb of Archimedes, although in others it is affirmed that this tomb was wrongly attributed to the great sage. We also leave for the next time the visit to the catacombs of the church of San Juan, where many Christians took refuge in times of persecution.

What we did that afternoon, after eating, was renting a audio guide in a street kiosk via Roma and go visiting various points of the Ortigia neighborhood while listening to related information. Next, we reproduce part of what we learned with her.


The Cathedral (or temple of Athena)
It was built taking advantage of the temple at Athena built centuries before after the victory of the Greek colony against the Carthaginians. It had a golden shield at the top that served as a reference to the sailors. Originally, it was oriented to the east, just like the temple of Apollo. However, with the arrival of Christianity, the facade was installed at the opposite end and the spaces of the lateral colonnades were filled to create the three typical ships of the basilicas. It is curious to enter this cathedral with a baroque facade and see much older Doric columns supporting the ceiling.

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