The Neapolis

The Ear of Dionysius and the Grotta dei Cordari

The Ear of Dionysius, in the ancient Latomia del Paradiso, is an artificial cave around twenty metres high, carved into the limestone rock. Its depth reaches seventy metres, running internally in the shape of an “S”, while the sinuous walls converge upwards in an  ogival arch .
Vista frontale Orecchio Dionisio
It is said that its name was thought of by Caravaggio, who, when he visited the cave during his stay in Syracuse noticed its resemblance to the shape of an auricle.
The name also alludes to the extraordinary acoustic qualities of the quarry, which amplifies the slightest sound up to sixteen times, as also testified by the painter Jean-Pierre Houël , who in his meticulous descriptions mentioned the exceptional acoustics of this natural cave, densely frequented also by players and musicians who performed their rehearsals here, playing the horn and beating drums. According to reconstructions by the Siceliot writer Diodorus Siculus, the tyrant Dionysius allegedly locked up the poet Philoxenus of Cythera  in this space or in the nearby “ Grotta dei Cordari ” on the pretext that he did not appreciate the tyrant’s literary works.
The particular shape of the Ear of Dionysius, combined with the half-light and its acoustic properties, has contributed to bestowing the site with an air of mystery.
In the complex of the Latomia del Paradiso there is also the Grotta dei Cordari, its name given by the centuries of use by rope makers who found it an ideal place to work, thanks to the high levels of humidity inside.
The Grotta dei Cordari has been famous since ancient times and many travellers have depicted it in their drawings and lithographs. Among the most significant paintings from a historical point of view is the watercolour on paper by Francesco Paolo Priolo from 1867, in which the evocative architecture of the cave is used as a background to St. Paul's sermon .

Legends and magic echoes in the Latomie of Syracuse

The Museion and the Grotta del Ninfeo

Ortygia. Venus rising from the waters of the port

The Dionysian Walls: a masterpiece of Greek engineering

Crypt of San Marciano

Piazza del Duomo, a sacred place of the ancient Greeks

Inside the Cathedral of Ortygia

Castello Maniace

The Jews, a wandering people

The Church of St. Lucia to the Abbey

The Athenaion of the tyrant Gelon

The Gladiator performances

Temple of Apollo

Where seas and civilisations meet

The Greek Theatre of Syracuse

The Altar of Hieron II: Blood and fire place

Traces of Christianity in Syracuse

The catacombs of San Giovanni

The Church of San Giovanni alle Catacombe

The Culture of Pantalica

Syracuse during the tyranny of Dionysius

The Euryalus Fortress

The Cathedral of Syracuse

The Ear of Dionysius and the Grotta dei Cordari

The Roman Amphitheatre

The cultural significance of tragedy

Neapolis from past to present

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

The Venationes

The Spanish fortification

Byzantine Pantalica

The architecture of the Piazza

The functions of Castello Maniace

Pantalica: where nature and history merge

The Senatorial Palace

Giudecca, the hidden Jewish heart of Syracuse

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