One of the most visited destinations in Sicily is the Neapolis Archaeological Park in Syracuse. Here, you can dive into history where you can imagine the past lost between myth and reality, where you can discover the charm of antiquity. The Greek Theater, the quarries, the Ear of Dionysus…enjoy a walk full of wonder. Let’s go!
Finds, ‘talking’ stones, a natural area that tells a piece of Syracusan history. The Neapolis Archaeological Park is all this, one of the most famous archaeological areas in Sicily and the whole Mediterranean.Any visitor can get lost in the beauty discovering famous monuments mentioned by the guides, as well as hidden gems to be revealed during their itinerary.
First of all, you cannot miss the major attraction: the Greek Theater that dates back to the 5th century BC. and was built on the southern slopes of the Temenite hill. Here great comedies and tragedies were performed, Aeschylus – for instance – presented his masterpiece ‘The Persians’ in these stands, dedicating it to Gerone I. Even today, classical tragedies and comedies are organized at the Greek Theater, the steps fill up during summer and in the evening, the sunset lights up the auditorium and the stage lights come on: emotions.
Latomia del Paradiso
What are the so-called ‘latomie’ (quarries)? We are in front of one of the distinctive features of the Neapolis Archaeological Park, that is the places on the hills where people used to take the stones to build, later they became prisons. The latomia del Paradiso is the largest, the biggest stone blocks were extracted from it and inside there are large cavities that everyone knows as Orecchio Di Dionisio (Ear of Dionysius), Grotta dei Cordari and Grotta del Salnitro.
The Ear of Dionysius, called in this way by Caravaggio, is characterized by a curious story that binds it to the tyrant Dionysius I of Syracuse. They say that he used to exploit the shape of the quarry to spy what his prisoners said.
The Grotta dei Cordari, on the other hand, is another artificial cave that narrates, with its name, the activity of the manufacturers of artisanal ropes, ‘survived’ until the second half of the twentieth century.
Finally, the Grotta del Salnitro has this name due to the color of the walls, similar to the mineral of the same name, from which the stone to build the polis was extracted.
The tomb of Archimedes
Another monument you cannot miss is the tomb of Archimedes. Actually, it is only presumed, but it is the idea that the well-known mathematician rests there that increases its charm. Among the several tombs, this is the most conspicuous, framed with Doric semi-columns and, carved on the rock, a gable pediment. Whether or not it is the tomb of the most illustrious Syracusan (that is unlikely if we refer to the official dating back to the Imperial Roman period) it is undoubtedly a mysterious place that intrigues visitors.
So, the question is: where is the real tomb of Archimedes?
Who knows! Nobody seems to have discovered it, except Cicero who wrote it in his Tuscolanae disputationes.
From his words we can only imagine that the tomb is in Neapolis or there around…maybe one day the truth will come out. We can keep on looking.