The Dionysian Walls were built between 402 BC and 397 BC at the behest of the tyrant Dionysius I, with the aim of fortifying the plateau of the Epipoli of Syracuse.
The walls completely surrounded the ancient city, following a curious isosceles triangle shape, the base of which was the Syracusan coast, and the vertex was a point named Euryalus, meaning “spike”. Dionysius, a refined strategist, had sensed the vulnerability of the city of Arethusa, whose geographical position lent itself to sudden attacks by enemies from both land and sea.
Moreover, the plateau, elevated above the city, represented a danger in light of the constant Carthaginian threat. The tyrant’s defensive strategy therefore included the most majestic work of war engineering built in Syracuse in Greek times: 27-km-long walls with massive towers that were used as observation points.
The weakest point, the Euryalus, is where most of the fortification was focused, thanks to the construction of a huge castle. This architectural feat was widely documented by Diodorus of Sicily , who described the commitment and speed of the workers in carrying out the work in utmost secrecy and as quickly as possible. Five million tonnes of limestone blocks were extracted from the Latomie for the construction of the mighty walls.
The fortified structure included numerous gates and secret passages that created places to hide and ambush, while large gateways granted access to the city. The example of the Syracusan walls was unparalleled in antiquity and is comparable only to the long Themistoclean Wall in Athens and the Aurelian Walls in Rome.
Today, the only remains of the walls are the foundation bed, while remains of the elevation have survived only in the vicinity of the castle