The Neapolis

Legends and magic echoes in the Latomie of Syracuse

The latomie are found in the northern part of the Neapolis Archaeological Park. These quarries were used in Greek and Roman times to extract the stone blocks used for the construction of temples and monuments. Their name comes from the Greek word latomìai, formed by the noun lytos meaning stone and the verb témnein, to cut.
Following the Second Sicilian Expedition in 413 BC, a hard and ferocious battle between Athens and Syracuse was fought, and the Latomie were used to imprison the defeated Athenian soldiers.
There were over seven thousand prisoners of war. On the walls of these rocky ravines it is still possible to see holes probably used to hang the chains of prisoners, who were immobilised inside these inhospitable rooms.
They were freezing cold in winter and hot in summer, and were equivalent to a death sentence for the slaves. The mysterious fascination of these places ignited the imagination of intellectuals from every period, from Cicero , who defined the Latomie of Syracuse as the “grandiose, magnificent work of kings and tyrants”, to Salvatore Quasimodo , inevitably including the main names of the Grand Tour , such as the painter Jean-Pierre Houël , for whom the Latomie of Syracuse were one of the obligatory stops on a trip to Sicily. The largest and most famous is the Latomia del Paradiso, adjacent to the theatre and the Altar of Hieron.
Vista Latomie del ParadisoInside, there are some caves on the north-west side, including the Ear of Dionysius, a grotto with a curious S-shaped plan and an ogival arch vault .
A modern gallery connects the Latomia del Paradiso with the nearby Latomia dell’Intagliatella, from which you can access, through an arch in the rock, the Latomia di Santa Venera, whose rich subtropical vegetation makes it particularly picturesque.
These traces of an underground Syracuse extend below the urban city on the surface. There is poetic contrast between the mysterious darkness of the imprisonment and toil of the Latomie and the luminous and serene harmony of the ruins of ancient civilisations.

The Altar of Hieron II: Blood and fire place

Piazza del Duomo, a sacred place of the ancient Greeks

The Dionysian Walls: a masterpiece of Greek engineering

The Cathedral of Syracuse

The Gladiator performances

The Jews, a wandering people

The Greek Theatre of Syracuse

Byzantine Pantalica

The Senatorial Palace

The Euryalus Fortress

The Venationes

Castello Maniace

The Museion and the Grotta del Ninfeo

The Ear of Dionysius and the Grotta dei Cordari

Ortygia. Venus rising from the waters of the port

Syracuse during the tyranny of Dionysius

Where seas and civilisations meet

Pantalica: where nature and history merge

The cultural significance of tragedy

The Athenaion of the tyrant Gelon

The functions of Castello Maniace

The Church of St. Lucia to the Abbey

King Hyblon’s kingdom: Pantalica, between history and legend

The architecture of the Piazza

The Church of San Giovanni alle Catacombe

Roman Syracuse, a military power thanks to the genius of Archimedes

Neapolis from past to present

Traces of Christianity in Syracuse

Inside the Cathedral of Ortygia

Legends and magic echoes in the Latomie of Syracuse

Temple of Apollo

Crypt of San Marciano

Giudecca, the hidden Jewish heart of Syracuse

The Roman Amphitheatre

The Culture of Pantalica

The Spanish fortification

The catacombs of San Giovanni