Stage of history and beauty
The Greek theater of Syracuse is one of the most beautiful stages that the Roman age has left us as a legacy. In the list of what to see in Syracuse, as you can read in this article if you missed it, the theater of Syracuse certainly has a place of honor. Unlike other arenas scattered throughout all the European and African territories that were under Roman rule, the Syracuse amphitheater is still in operation thanks to the INDA foundation which allows to bring to the stage the most beautiful tragedies in the classical world.
To understand how extraordinary it is, it is better to know its history and structure. It was built by the architect Myrilla before the 5th century BC, although the aspect we see today is the result of a transformation desired by Jeron II in the 3rd century BC Unfortunately over the centuries it was plundered much of the white stone with which it is built. Pieces went for the construction of the Spanish fortifications, others were removed to install water mills inside the orchestra, on the cavea and other areas of the theater.
The installation of the mills that carried the water from the Galermini aqueduct made it one of the most spectacular and scenic theaters of the time. Currently the only evidence of this ancient reality is the millers’ house, a small tower-shaped building that overlooks the eastern part of the cavea. What we can visit today is a skeleton carved into the rock consisting of the cavea, the orchestra and the base of the scenic building.
The cavea is a good 138.60 meters and is divided into two sectors reachable by the diazoma, a large semicircular corridor. Going through it we can see on the north wall some engravings bearing the names of deities and well-known personalities of the basileus family. At the center we find the father of all the gods, Zeus; to the east Heracles – better known as the hero Hercules – and Demeter – wife of Zeus; to the west there are the names of Jeron II, his wife Queen Philistide, the daughter-in-law Nereid and her son Gelon II.
The orchestra is located at the foot of the cavea and originally contained an altar dedicated to Dionysus. Like everything concerning the classical world, the choice was not accidental, in fact Dionysus is linked to the myth of the birth of theater as an art. The choir was positioned above the euripo channel which separated the space of the spectators from that of the choir.
The scenic building is characterized by the so-called “Carontee stairs” that allowed the appearance or disappearance of the stage characters. Imagine being in a world that does not know the special effects and find yourself in a theater full of water and where the characters are able to appear and disappear … Today it is something that leaves us speechless. Even in the late imperial age the orchestra was adapted to house the colymbetra, the spectacular water games wanted by Nerazio Palmato in the 5th century.
The terrace is cut into the slopes of the Temenite hill and has an L-shaped portico and a grotto on the sides of which are niches that housed statues and were also used as sepulchres. In the base there are two inscriptions that recall the muses.
The Via dei Sepolcri was the ancient access to the upper part of the theater and reaches the top of the temenite. In the Hellenistic age quadringular grooves were added which were used to praise the dead heroes.
INDA Foundation in Syracuse
Thanks to the work carried out by the operators of the INDA foundation the Greek theater of Syracuse is back to its former glory, bringing the greatest tragedians and artists such as Pier Paolo Pasolini, Salvatore Quasimodo, Dario del Corno, Maria Grazia Ciani, Vittorio Gassman, Valeria Moriconi and many others.
Every year it offers a rich program of performances and gives the possibility to the very young, since 1923, to undertake a new career through the establishment of the National Institute of Ancient Drama.
Price of Greek theater ticket in Syracuse
Full price: € 10.00
reduced € 5.00 (18/25 years)
Free admission every first Sunday of the month
Free for members of the European Union under the age of 18
Greek theater tickets Syracuse for the classic tragedies you will find them as always on the site of the Inda Foundation.