The Neapolis Archaeological Park is home to many of Syracuse’s most important Greek and Roman ruins, including the Greek Theater dating from the fifth century BC, a third-century-BC sacrificial altar, second-century Roman amphitheater, and a limestone quarry that provided stone for the ancient city.
A must for archaeology buffs, the Parco Archeologico della Neapolis is a UNESCO World Heritage Site just outside the city of Syracuse, and visitors can tour its Teatro Greco that once held 16,000 spectators for the staging of the final tragedies of Aeschylus; Teatro Romano that hosted gladiatorial combats and horse races; monolithic Ara di Gerone II altar dedicated to Heron II, where 450 oxen could be sacrificed at one time; and the sprawling Latomia del Paradiso quarry complex.
Because its size and history spanning centuries, it's best to explore the Neapolis Archaeological Park with a guide. Join a walking tour of the archaeological park from Syracuse, or from the Sicilian cities of Taormina or Catania. You can also combine a visit to the park with day trips to the nearby towns of Ortigia and Noto.
Things to Know Before You Go
- Tours of the Neapolis Archaeological Park require walking over uneven terrain, so wear sturdy shoes' a hat and sunscreen are also useful.
- Because of the rough terrain, the park is not accessible to wheelchairs.
- In late spring, the Greek Theater begins its annual season of classical theater performances.
- A tour of the park is particularly interesting for fans of archaeology.
How to Get There
The Neapolis Archaeological Park is located just outside Syracuse, an easy walk from the historic center or the train station.
When to Get There
The open-air park can get uncomfortably hot under the Sicilian sun in the summer, so plan to visit first thing in the morning or in the late afternoon. The Teatro Greco is often used during the summer months for classical plays; the park closes earlier than usual on performance days.
Part of the park’s ancient limestone quarry, the Ear of Dionysius cave boasts acoustics so precise that it is said that the tyrant Dionysius kept his enemies imprisoned inside so he could more easily eavesdrop on them.