The Neapolis

Neapolis and the earth element. Places of performance: the Greek theatre and the Roman amphitheatre

One of the unique aspects of ancient theatres and amphitheatres is their structure. Normally, part of these buildings was dug into the earth, into the rock of mountains and hills. This is their link with the earth element: a gentle slope offered by nature, transformed into the cavea of the theatre.

Il teatro greco di siracusa
Il teatro greco di Siracusa colpisce subito per la sua maestosità, esso era infatti uno dei teatri più importanti del mondo antico. La cavea, il luogo dove gli spettatori prendono posto, è scavata sul pendio di una collina. Essa presenta la forma di un semicerchio ed è formata da 67 file di gradini divise in 9 settori. Ognuno di questi 9 spicchi, chiamati “cunei”, era stato dedicato anticamente ad una divinità o ad un membro della famiglia reale. Durante la rappresentazioni è presente un coro, un gruppo di personaggi che danzano e cantano in uno spazio semicircolare chiamato “orchestra”. L’orchestra si trova alla base della cavea e si frappone tra gli spettatori disposti sulle gradinate e la scena. Sul fondo dell’orchestra c’è infatti la scena, uno spazio riservato alla recitazione degli attori. Ai lati dell’orchestra sono ancora presenti due gallerie, chiamate parodoi, i corridoi che anticamente permettevano l’accesso del coro.

The cavea was the set of steps where spectators would sit to watch performances. In the Greek theatre of Syracuse, one of the most important in the ancient world, the càvea is shaped like a semicircle and consists of 67 rows of steps divided into 9 segments. Each of these 9 segments is named after a deity or a member of the royal family.
In ancient times, the Greek theatre was used to host performances of various kinds, including some of the most important tragedies and comedies by Greek writers. There was a choir who danced and sang in a semicircular space called the “ orchestra ”. The protagonists of the performance acted on a raised platform: the stage .
“Charon’s Staircase” was built below the orchestra: this was a long hidden underground corridor connected to the stage by a ladder. This passage was used during performances to suddenly appear and disappear by people who played gods or spirits from beyond the grave, like modern special effects. The actors performed with their faces covered by a terracotta mask .
An amphitheatre was built in Neàpolis a few centuries later in Roman times. Of the old building, today we can see the central part, the “arena”, and one part of the càvea.
Anfiteatro RomanoThe arena was an area covered with sand where the performances were held, while the large cavea, divided into sectors, was once covered with precious marble.
In the Roman amphitheatre two types of shows took place: gladiator fights and hunts for wild and exotic animals from the East, such as tigers, lions, panthers and leopards.

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Giudecca and air. The Basilica of San Giovannello

Nature in Neapolis

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Neapolis and the air element. The Ear of Dionysius

Ortygia and water. The Fountain of Arethusa

Ortygia

Giudecca

Giudecca and fire. Cooking and the Jewish religion

Pantalica and fire. The Metal Age: objects from the culture of Pantalica

Neapolis and the water element. The Nymphaeum

Pantalica and the earth element

Ortygia and fire. Archimedes and the invention of the burning mirrors

The naumachiae: naval battles at the theatre

Pantalica and water: the Myth of the Anapo River

The interior of the Cathedral of Syracuse

The fountain of Diana in Piazza Archimede

Neapolis and fire. The Altar of Hieron and the sacrificial fire

Giudecca and the earth element. Between gardens and artisan workshops

Ortygia and the air element. The Gods of Olympus and the Temple of Apollo.

The Cathedral of Syracuse

The Neapolis

Neapolis and the earth element. Places of performance: the Greek theatre and the Roman amphitheatre

A journey to Pantalica