Ara of Hieron in Syracuse

Ara of Hieron in Syracuse

Carlo Pelagalli - CC3.0


 Via del Teatro Greco- Siracusa (SR)

The Altar of Hieron of the Archaeological Park of Neapolis is the largest Greek altar in Sicily.
The altar of Hieron, located to the west of the Roman Amphitheater, is dedicated to Jupiter the Liberator, Zeus Eleutherios, and dates back to the third century BC. The huge base carved into the rock, the only remaining part of the altar Hieronian, it is 192 meters long and almost 23 meters wide. The monument had two entrances to the south and north. The north entrance was flanked by two Telamons, of which the base with the feet of the one on the right remains carved into the rock. Only the base of the building remains because the rest of the monument was demolished in the 16th century by the Spaniards who reused the blocks to build the fortifications of Ortigia.
The altar overlooks a large square, surrounded on three sides by a portico with 14 columns on the short sides and 64 on the long sides, with a propylaum in the center. In this area, Eleutheria were celebrated, grandiose festivals in honor of Zeus Eleutherios, during which 450 bulls were sacrificed in honor of the god. The numerous quadrangular cavities that, with regular dimensions and cadence, open onto the whole square, no longer visible today, have recently been interpreted as stone housings intended to bind the bulls in the imminence of the sacrifice.

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