Syracuse. The monumental zone of the Neapolis

A view of the monumental zone of Syracuse

The great urban expansion of modern Syracuse sharply intensified in the 1950s. It had as its consequence that the monumental zone of the Neapolis, which until a few decades before had been situated in an idyllic and peaceful rural setting on the outskirts of the city, now found itself in the immediate periphery of the modern city, which progressively encroached upon it and even spread beyond it. Luigi Bernaḅ Brea realized the vital need to ring-fence this extremely important archaeological zone and properly incorporate it in the town planning of modern Syracuse. So between 1952 and 1955 he mounted a concerted and bitterly contested campaign aimed at safeguarding this zone and enabling its individual monuments to be reunited in a single "Parco della Neapolis": the Greek theatre, the sanctuary of Apollo, the altar of Hiero II, the quarries known as the Latomia del Paradiso, Latomia dell'Intagliatella, and Latomia di Santa Venera, the amphitheatre, and the so-called "Tomb of Archimedes" were all included in the Park. Almost all the areas between the individual monuments comprised in the Park were expropriated, and the individual monuments, wrested from the isolation to which they had been reduced, were joined together by green areas. Here systematic excavations were conducted. They demonstrated how the monuments were interconnected in antiquity, and restored them to the urban fabric of which they formed part. The successors of L. Bernaḅ Brea in the direction of the Soprintendenza have continued his work and devoted themselves energetically to the conservation and promotion of the Park and its access to the public, convinced of its importance: "... the Parco della Neapolis... is the achievement of an enormous effort to protect the ancient heritage, the result of an operation that has maintained its character of prestige not only for the city, but for the whole island of Sicily over these last fifty years" (G. Voza 2002, p. 256).


  • G. Voza, L.Bernabò Brea soprintendente alle Antichità della Sicilia Orientale, in "In memoria di L. Bernabò Brea", a cura di M. Cavalier e M. Bernabò Brea, Palermo, 2002, pp.250-257.
  • G. Voza, Guida di Siracusa, Siracusa 1994.

Return to the list