See the ruins for sure. Also...
See the ruins for sure. Also go to the coast and spend the afternoon with the locals in the water and on the rocks or at least watching the fun! Walking the streets at night with all the locals and enjoying the families and fun they all have together.
I was really looking forward to seeing the Greek theatre at Syracuse. It was here, in a sweeping curve that could seat 16,000, carved from the living rock in the 3rd century BC, that some of the greatest plays ever written were first performed. MrL had visited it more than 30 years ago and had often said how magnificent it was in its setting high on the hill of Temenite above the city. Back then it was all open access; we knew it wouldn't be like that - there would be opening hours, ticket offices, guards, souvenir stalls and such. We expected all that and accept it as part of 21st century mass-tourism. We also expected to be able to see the theatre as the archaeological treasure that it is - the pride of Syracuse.
I have to say, I was disappointed. A summer-long season of classical drama had seen wooden seating and staging laid over the ancient stones, lighting gantries and stage sets installed and some areas around the theatre blocked off, including the orchestra and much of the seating, so that there was very little of the original structure to be seen. I like my ruins atmospheric, worn stones warm to sit on in the sunshine in quiet contemplation of the past, a chance to conjure up the shades of the ancients, to hear whispers on the wind of the lines spoken by Oedipus and Electra .
The theatre was one of the biggest in the Greek world. An altar dedicated to Dionysius, the god of wine, stood in the orchestra. The names of gods and important people were carved into the the front of each of the nine sections of the cavea. Some of the lettering of these names can still be figured out today - needless to say, the summer seating hides this.
Behind the theatre, in the centre of a rock-hewn terrace, you'll find the grotto of the Nymphaeum where a waterfall is fed by an aqueduct. It was a sacred place , used for the religious ceremonies that formed an essential part of the theatrical festivals that were held here. From here the Via dei Sepolcri (Road of Tombs) winds its way uphill, hundred of niches carved into its rock face in Byzantine times.