During the tyranny of
, starting in the year 485 BC, Syracuse experienced a period of great expansion and wealth, becoming the capital of a kingdom that also included Gela and other territories in eastern Sicily. The tyrant gave such strong impetus to the building and urban development of Syracuse that the number of new districts increased, such as Tyche and Neapolis, to cope with the considerable demographic expansion.
Since the tyrant also believed that the city should display its power through imposing and majestic monuments, he employed the architect Damokopos , who was commissioned to build a theatre within the Neapolis area. In a small part of this ancient district born in Greek Syracuse, there is now an archaeological park built between 1952 and 1955 by Luigi Bernabò Brea , with the aim of preserving and developing the surviving monuments from both the Greek and Roman ages, and saving them from the threat of modern urban expansion.
The park extends along a mountainous relief called the Temenite Hill, which divides the area into two parts: to the south you can visit the monumental route of Neapolis, with Greek and Roman ruins; while in the northern part there are deep latomie, caves and mysterious grottoes dug into the mountain’s rock. The archaeological remains coexist with a varied vegetation that completes the magical atmosphere of this place.
Evergreen plants typical of the Maquis shrubland such as olive trees, Mediterranean cypresses, pines, date palms and ficus blend with fragrant citrus trees, especially orange and lemon.
A characteristic fruit of the park is the pomegranate . For this reason, the area where the Roman Amphitheatre is located was called “la fossa dei granati”, the garnet pit, because of the abundance of these fruit trees that grew around it, considered a symbol of fertility since ancient times.