The Ear of Dionysius: the most beautiful cave in Syracuse

orecchio di dionisio

In the south of our beautiful island, the town of Syracuse rises. Its history of domains and hegemonies makes it unique and intriguing: Greeks, Romans, Normans, Arabs and many other peoples left their mark in the territory giving amazing places to visit.

SicilianMagpie will guide you on a journey through the history of a place famous for excellence: the Ear of Dionysus.

Located in an ancient quarry called the Latomia of Paradise, the artificial cave amazes observers for its grandeur, a suggestive glimpse into nature with a particular donkey’s ear shape.

Its limestone walls are over 23 meters high and widen into a curvilinear surface that varies its diameter from 5 to 11 meters. What makes this place unique is the sound amplification capacity produced thanks to the particular shape of the quarry structure.

According to an ancient legend, the birth of the cave was not natural, but wanted by the tyrant Dionisio. In fact, he used it as a place of imprisonment for enemies by exploiting the particular shape and the echo produced there. So he could spy on the remarks and attitudes of the segregated from a remote corner.

The origins of this naturalistic spectacle and of the events narrated are still not certain today. We know, however, that the place and its compelling stories fascinated Caravaggio who, traveling to Syracuse in 1608, baptized the place with its current name.

To date, the Ear of Dionysus is one of the most visited places in Southern Sicily, an unmissable stop for lovers of naturalistic places. Inside, visitors will be fascinated by the grandeur and the sometimes gloomy but extremely suggestive scenery. Very often, inside the cave, we can find people singing to make the visitor hear the peculiarity of the echo that is propagated.

Martina Spampinato

Noto

Located in the province of Syracuse, Noto is one of the must when visiting Sicily. Known as the capital of Baroque for its village centre, which can boast of magnificent monumental buildings. A few kilometers from the centre you can find a stretch of coast among the most beautiful in the Syracuse province. 

Apollo Temple

The temple is from the 6th century B.C. and it is the temple of the oldest Doric order in Sicily. The building has followed the historical evolution of the city of Syracuse. It become a church at first, and after that it was a mosque, then again a church, and it changed again to a barracks during the Spanish domination. This is why it remains very little from the original temple.

Greek Theatre

This work dates back to the 5th century B.C. It was renovated several times over the centuries, once during the 3rd century and again during the Roman era. It is one of the most representative monuments of the province of Syracuse. It was build in a way that improved  the acoustics for the spectators, despite the constrains imposed by the geographic conformation of the area.

Grotticelle Necropolis and Archimede Tomb

Legend tells that Archimedes was buried in this limestone cave. Archimedes is considered one of the greatest scientists in history. He lived in Syracuse in 200 B.C. He has left several contributions to science in the geometric, mathematical, optical and mechanical fields. He also made discoveries among which: The lever, the floating laws and much more.

Latomia del Paradiso

This caves and tunnels were used one as mines and probably as prisons too. It is said that during the war between Athens and Syracuse, during the Greek era, it was the place where Athenian prisoners were locked up and left there to die.

Ara di Ierone II

Great monumental work dating back to the 5th century A.D. This archaeological site is of great interests. Very little remains of the original structure because, under the Spanish domination, most of the blocks that compose it were removed for the construction of military structures.

Roman Amphitheatre

It was built between the 1st and the 3rd century A.D. It’s one of the most impressive works of the Imperial Rome on the island. It returned to light in 1839 thanks to the excavations of Duke of Serradifalco and it’s certainly the most important evidence of the Roman era in the province of Syracuse.