Gardens of Paradise
The Latomia or Gardens of Paradise were originally the immense quarries, both surface and especially underground. it is hard to establish an exact dating of "pietraje" (quarries), but it is likely that most of them are in use since 7th BC. According to the historians the quarries were also used as a place of restraint. Latomie served for the stones for construction of buildings, houses, monuments and street pavements.
During Byzantine times latomie served as underground burial places, and from which it draws the name "Street of Tombs" (in its walls have been excavated undergound burials).
Grotte dei Cordari
In Italian language "cordari" is expression for rope-makers. There are still covered so-called latomie, inside the Gardens of Paradise, which are actually the caves of cordari that for centuries, thanks to its length and the presence of water, hosted the manufacturers of ropes. The vault, inside the cave, is still supported by pillars left by the quarrymen of stones, and you can see huge blocks well squared hang from the ceilling like colossal stalactites.
Fountain of Arethusa
According to the legend, Alpheus, the son of Oceanus, fall medly in love with the nymph named Arethusa, but the nymph didn't share her feelings. In order to save the nymph, Artedimes turned her into a water source. Zeus also turned Alpheus into a river, allowing him to meet op with Arethusa.
The spring of Arethusa, which takes the form of large fountain and pool....
Santa Lucia alla Badia
Santa Lucia is the patron of Syracuse, she was martyred in 304 near the site of the church of that name, in Piazza Santa Lucia. Her feast day in December is a local holiday marked by a grand festival.
Located at the end of Piazza Duomo, the church was built during the Byzantine era of Syracuse and then reconstructed by the Normans during the 12th century. In the 17th century the church was completelly modified, almost beyond recognition.
Beneath the church are extensive catacombs. In its interiors the church houses Caravaggio's masterpiece "Burial of St. Lucy....
Porta Urbia is located in via XX Settembre, there is an excavationin the road where we can see the remains of the ancient scity gate, built by Dionysius the Great and inserted in the city walls. The city walls starting from Ortigia completely encircled the whole town up to the castle of Euryalus, for a length of about 30km. Today wee can see only the base of two square towers over eight meters per side, which probably gave access to a road that connected the Temple of Apollo and that of Athena.
Piazza del Duomo
From the outset, Piazza del Duomo was destined to be a sacred spot. In the antiquity it had been the site of archaic Ionian temple, in the capital of what was called Western Grecian Empire. The remains of the temple are now under the Palazzo Senatorio. This fine temple was mentioned by Cicero who narrated of its ivory and gold doors decorated with the goddess shining shield. Unfortunately, the dedication of the temple is still unknown, there excist only a speculation that it was probably an Athenaion. The temple was built as the second in order of time, and dates back to the second half of the 6th century.
Next to the Ionian temple used to be the the Temple of Athena, later on, as it often happened with ancient pagan temples, it was converted into a Christian Basilica.
The present day Piazza Duomo is streched in a semi-oval shape, flanked by aristocratic palaces coupled with the splendours of the magnificent Syracuse Cathedral. It is considered as one of the most beautiful squares in whole of Italy.
To the right of Duomo stands the medieval Palazzo Vescovile (Episcopal Palace), made by structures restored and reutilised in the 17th century. It completes the scene of the square with its splendid terrace and hanging garden.
Palazzo Beneventano del Bosco by the local is simply called Palazzo Grande, most probably because of its complicated name. The palace is located right in front of the Duomo. It is the 15th century construction and later restored at the end of the 18th century by Syracuse architect Luciano Ali. This architect angadged masters from all of Sicily; the marble master Ferlito from Catania, Lombardo and Ermenegildo Mortorama from Palermo for the stucco and painted decorations, while the mirrors, Lights and gildings were ordered from Venice.
The plaque, at the front palace commemorates the visit of King Ferdinad III of Bourbon to Syracuse in 1806.
Palazzo del Senato detto Palazzo Vermexio
This beautiful palace, right next to the cathedral was constructed between 1629 and 1633 under theplan of Spanish architect Giovanni Vermexio. It is mixed of Baroque and Renaissance style. Vermexio gave the building a touch of Spanish, wishing to unite the architectural styles of Syracuse with those lavish of Spain.The palace was constructed to be the seat of the city government and it has the same assignment even today.
The palace was build on the remains of an Greek temple in the Ionic style, from the 6th century A.C., most probably honouring Artemides. The remains of the temple are still visible in the subterranial parts of the palace, yet its dedication is still unknown.
Stroll the Lungomare for Passeggiata
On the island of Ortigia the Lungomare Alfeo is a lovely spot for an evening passeggiata or indeed any time of the day.
The promenade has bars and restaurants and is a lovely spot to enjoy the sunset while sipping a drink.
According to the tradition, Syracuse became the first city in the West in which was founded a Christian community. In fact, there is the inscription in the interior of the Cathedral that reads in Latin; "Ecclesia Syracusana Prima Divi Petri Filia Et Prima Post Antiochenam Christo Dicata" - "the church of Syracuse is the first daughter of St. Peter and the second after the church of Antioch dedicated to Christ".
The Cathedral of Syracuse has interesting history, it stands on the same site where used to be the Temlpe of Athena, the 5th BC century Greek temple built on he site of a much older Sikenan temple. It is one of the just a few surviving examples in the former Magna Graecia (Megara Hellas) of a temple being converted directly into a church.
The cathedral of Syracuse is located on the most elevated part of the island Ortigia, incorporating what was a temple dedicated to Athena (Minerva) - Athena, daughter of Zeus, was the goddess of knowledge, wisdom, waving, war and in generally of handicrafts -. The temple of Athena, in Doric style, was erected in the 5BC century by the tyrant Gelo, after the victory against Carthagians at the Battle of Himera (480BC).
In the 7th century the temple was transformed into the church, by order of Bishop Zosimus. The church, of Byzantine forms, was dedicated to the Nativity of Mary and embraced the colonnade of the temple on the outside walls, while in most interior walls of the old cell were opened eight arches on each side, in order to create a building with three naves, each one closed with the apse at the end.
Wild Asparagus Hunting Winter Pics
These photographs were taken at the end of October in Sicily.
They show the male and female wild asparagus plants.
I found it easier to find the plants in this state in the autumn and remember where they were in order to recognise them in spring time when they are surrounded by other plant growth which can obscure them.
I could not identify the plants at all for a number of years but it is now becoming easier.
I will upload photographs of the asparagus next spring.
How many oxen?
If you thought Greek society was less steeped in blood than the Romans who followed them, a look at the huge stepped rock platform on the southern side of the Viale Paradiso is enough to make you think again. This is the Ara di Ierone ll - Hieron ll -a third century BC tyrant.
In the Classical world, tyrants were rulers who had seized power through their own means rather than by election or inheritance. The word did not carry the modern bias of cruelty or corruption, many of the Sicilian tyrants, such as Hieron ll, were notable patrons of art and learning.
Back to the altar - considered the longest ever built , only the base of which remains. It was built to honour and give thanks to Zeus Eleutherios, the god of freedom. 198 metres by 23 metres, it was big enough to handle the simultaneous slaughter of 450 bulls. It originally stood 15 metres high and probably had a large pool under a high portico in front of it. Much of the stone was removed during the reign of Charles V to build the fortifications on Ortygia.
Orecchio di Dionisio
There is a big cave, adjacent to the Greek Theatre, which the famous Italian Baroque painter Caravaggio called "Orecchio di Dionisio" (the Ear of Dyonisius). Fact is, cave is in the shape of an outer ear and has outstanding acoustic qualities. There goes inevitable legend, along with such a places, which says; the tyrant of Syracuse shut his enemies in the cave and listened to their conversations from outside.
Hmm, maybe he was a good tyrant if avoiding torturing his enemies in order to find out what they could say about him, or maybe he wasn't tyrant at all. No matter what legend says fact is, this cave has extraordinary acoustic.
Are there too many churches or too little priests? Why some churches never openning their doors, or at least showing names? Isn't every church a public place where people should gather together and worship God or his Son. Who could made decision to close the door and don't let people to visit the interiors? Are this places made for them only (whoever they are) or for all of us no matter if believers or not?
In my opinion churches, mosques, synagogues or temples should never close their doors if made for a people, common people.
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