I took a stroll in the park today.
When I say stroll, I mean a long, long walk. And when I say park, I mean Parco Archeologico della Neapolis, the vast archaeological park in Siracusa.
The most amazing monuments are in here!
My Lonely Planet guidebook, once again, was no help whatsoever. Although it’s a February 2012 edition, the information about opening times, tickets and bus directions are way out of kilter.
No matter, I found my way there with a little help from the locals.
One thing I did notice was the description accessible to people who may have trouble walking. Great. That sounds like me. This turned out to be a series of small roads in the park which go around in curves instead of straight up. Fine, but four times as long.
Also Be sure to allocate an hour and a half to see it all. An hour and a half! It took me almost an hour to find the front gate! Then I had to find the ticket office.
The footpath didn’t help.
One lovely thing about the street outside was the way that large rocks, from the ruins, had been placed here and there along the way.
They were handy to sit on too.
The Roman Ampitheatre (started during Nero’s reign) is the second largest in Italy.
Only a portion remains today. The Spanish Conquistadores stripped most of the stones to build fortifications in Ortigia.
The Conquistadores weren’t stupid, they were just uncaring of ancient monuments (anything that wasn’t Catholic) as well as being needlessly cruel to the people of Sicily.
I knew there were a lot of things I’ve read about over the years that I wanted to see.
The park covers 24 hectares and I didn’t want to wander in the wrong direction, so I kept my eyes peeled for signage.
I found a tiny hut with this sign directing me to hask.
So I hasked.
Dove si trova Ara di Gerone II?. Where can I find the Altar of Hiero 11?
The altar of Hiero (or Hieron), built in the third century BCE, is the largest surviving Greek altar in the world.
An incredibly huge thing, it was used for grandiose ceremonies including, according to my Usborne Encyclopedia of Ancient Greece, the sacrifice of 450 bulls in a single day.
That’s a lot of bulls in anyone’s language