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Syracuse and the Necropolis of Pantalica

Syracuse et la Nécropole de Pantalica

The area of Syracuse and Pantalica, through its remarkable cultural diversity, offers an exceptional testimony to the development of civilization over some three millennia. The Necropolis of Pantalica covers about 1,200 meters from north to south and 500 metres from east to west in the region Sortino. In hilly terrain (cliffs and caves) and in a beautiful natural environment, about 5,000 graves are visible, most of which have been carved into the rock. Archaeological research has brought to light, in this area, the remains of dwellings from the period of Greek colonization. The Mycenaean origin materials and monumental structures were recognized, allowing the identification of Anaktoron (Prince’s Palace). On the side that has been inhabited from around the Neolithic period, and certainly from the beginning of the 13th century, we find Syracuse symbolizing the development of the Greek presence in the western Mediterranean. This city, founded in the 8th century was, according to the ancients, extremely beautiful. Its central core, today the island of Ortygia, controlled two natural ports which had already become famous in ancient times. Ortygia consisted of five parts, giving rise to its alternative name of Pentapolis. The two ports are still identifiable today: the Small Herbor to the east and the Grand Harbour to the west. Ortigia has a main central road and a network of other streets that recall the orthogonal plane of a Greek city. The following Greek ruins are visible (from north to south): the Temple of Apollo (Apollonion); the Ionic Temple; the Temple of Athena (Athenaeion). The Catacombs, the largest except those of Rome, date from the early-Christian period. Then were built many elements that testify the troubled history of the Church of St. John Baptist (fourth to sixteenth century), the Church of San Martino (6th-14th century), the Palace Bellomo (13th 18th centuries), the Palace Migliaccio, the Church of Saint Francis (13th-18th centuries) and the Church of the College (built by the Jesuits in the 17th century). The most famous monument, with its large square, is the Cathedral, which incorporates the remains of a greek temple dating from the 6th century BC, the Archaeological Park includes the most spectacular Greek and Roman monuments that testify the past of Sicily: the magnificent greek theater; the Nymphaeum zone (with the cave); the sanctuary of Apollo; the impressive altar of Hieron II (king of Syracuse in 265-215 BC); the Roman amphitheater and the Grotticelle necropolis, which contains the so-called tomb of Archimedes.

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