Syracuse’s Greek Theater (Teatro Greco) was one of the largest in the world when it was constructed, able to seat up the 16,000 spectators. Hewn directly from the side of the Temenite Hill overlooking the Sicilian countryside, the stone theater is a highlight of the UNESCO-listed Neapolis Archaeological Park.
Originally dating from the fifth century BC, the Greek Theater was rebuilt several times, including during the Roman era. The original theater had 67 rows for audience members, though subsequent modifications over the centuries decreased the theater’s size somewhat. The site was excavated in the 19th century, and has been used for summer musical and theatrical performances for the past 100 years. A must for ancient history buffs, the Greek Theater is part of the Parco Archeologico della Neapolis complex just outside the city of Syracuse, along with a third-century-BC sacrificial altar, second-century Roman amphitheater, and ancient limestone quarry.
Because of its archaeological importance and history spanning centuries, it's best to visit the Green Theater with a guide as part of a Neapolis Archaeological Park walking tour from Syracuse, Taormina, or Catania. You can also combine a tour of the park with day trips to the nearby towns of Ortigia and Noto.
Things to Know Before You Go
- Tours of the Greek Theater require walking over uneven terrain, so wear sturdy shoes; a hat and sunscreen are useful as well.
- Because of the rough terrain, the Neapolis Archaeological Park is not accessible to wheelchairs.
- In late spring, the Greek Theater begins its annual season of classical theater performances, and may be partially covered by wooden seating and stage structures.
- A tour of the theater is particularly interesting for fans of archaeology.
How to Get There
The Neapolis Archaeological Park is located just outside the center of Syracuse, an easy walk from the town or train station.
When to Get There
The open-air theater 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 may close earlier than usual on days when performances are scheduled.
Other Highlights of the Neapolis Archaeological Park
In addition to the Teatro Greco, visitors to Neapolis can tour the Teatro Romano that once hosted gladiatorial combats and horse races, the Ara di Gerone II monolithic altar dedicated to Heron II, and the labyrinthine Latomia del Paradiso quarry complex.