The Neapolis

The Venationes

Another well-known form of entertainment were the Venationes, whose name derives from the Latin word venatio meaning “hunting”. They involved a fight between unarmed or armed men and ferocious beasts. These shows increased in number and importance thanks to the Roman conquest of exotic regions, which allowed for the supply of increasingly peculiar wild animals.
Over sixty panthers and leopards, forty bears and elephants were captured during a hunt held in 169 BC by the Roman generals Scipio Nasica and Publius Lentulus. This form of entertainment, which took place in Roman amphitheatres, consisted of a fight with wild animals. These shows, as a rule, took place in the morning and were intended to prepare the audience emotionally, before the gladiator fights took place in the afternoon.
The organisation of the Venationes was very complex: the arena was often set up with plants and sets that were reminiscent of the territories of origin of the animals.
The animals were kept in underground cages below the arena, from which they would be released during the show using lifting floors and counterweight systems. The venatores, or hunters, trained like gladiators in special schools, wore weapons and clothing typical of the regions of origin of the beasts. The fighters were usually prisoners of war, slaves or people condemned to death and were armed only with a spear and shield.
They were not held in high regard by the spectators, who were much more fascinated by the animal’s unpredictable behaviour and the scenery.

Where seas and civilisations meet

Syracuse during the tyranny of Dionysius

The Ear of Dionysius and the Grotta dei Cordari

The Roman Amphitheatre

Crypt of San Marciano

The Jews, a wandering people

The Greek Theatre of Syracuse

The Dionysian Walls: a masterpiece of Greek engineering

The Church of San Giovanni alle Catacombe

Ortygia. Venus rising from the waters of the port

The Athenaion of the tyrant Gelon

The Culture of Pantalica

The functions of Castello Maniace

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

Piazza del Duomo, a sacred place of the ancient Greeks

Castello Maniace

Neapolis from past to present

The Senatorial Palace

The Spanish fortification

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

The Venationes

The Gladiator performances

Legends and magic echoes in the Latomie of Syracuse

The architecture of the Piazza

Traces of Christianity in Syracuse

Giudecca, the hidden Jewish heart of Syracuse

The cultural significance of tragedy

The Euryalus Fortress

The Church of St. Lucia to the Abbey

The Cathedral of Syracuse

The catacombs of San Giovanni

Inside the Cathedral of Ortygia

Pantalica: where nature and history merge

The Museion and the Grotta del Ninfeo

The Altar of Hieron II: Blood and fire place

Byzantine Pantalica

Temple of Apollo