Eurialo Castle in Syracuse

Eurialo Castle in Syracuse

Peter Burka - CC2.0


 Via Siracusa, 1 - Siracusa (SR)

The Eurialo Castle in Syracuse represents one of the largest and most complete military works of the Greek period . From here, according to the myth, the genius of Archimedes faced Roman ships with his burning mirrors .
The origin of the name is most likely due to the shape of the rocky saddle on which it stands: from the Greek Euryalos, nail with a wide base.
The construction of the Euryalus castle is due to < b> military genius of Dionysius . After the war events that saw Syracuse besieged by the Athenians, between 415 - 413 BC, and which showed the weakness of that defensive sector, in the years between 402 and 397 the tyrant closed the city within a circle of walls 27 kilometers long that ran along the entire edge of the Epipoli plateau, a defensive system known as the “Dionysian Walls”, and which had its forward tip inland in the castle. The imposing fortification, which occupies an area of ​​15,000 square meters, was in fact built in the most vulnerable point of the plateau, where it narrows and connects with a slight slope to the hills behind, representing an easy access point for those approaching the city ​​from the hinterland.
After the Roman conquest of the city, in 212 BC, the great military complex of Eurialo was modified several times, up to the Byzantine age when a part was rebuilt using waste material from other ruined parts.
The keep was preceded by three wide moats : the first is located near the entrance to the archaeological area, near the Antiquarium; the second, angular in shape, is the widest, about 50 m, and is partially encumbered by the blocks collapsed by the advanced work that stood in the space between the second and third moat; finally, the third moat, located at the foot of the keep, also angular in shape, is the longest, and represents the most important strategic junction of the castle. In fact, a network of tunnels and passages branched off from this, connecting the moat with various points of the fortification and with a fourth moat that protects the southern side. Along the western side of this moat there were some underground rooms, accessible by stairs, perhaps used as deposits. Also in this third moat there was a ravelin connected to the castle by means of a drawbridge of which three powerful support pillars remain at the southern end of the moat.
The keep was protected in Greek times by a triangular spur, of which the collapsed remains remain, later replaced by five towers that reached a height of 15 meters. It is probable that catapults were housed on their top.
The central part of the fortress is represented by two adjacent bodies, the first irregularly rectangular and the second of a very elongated trapezoidal shape, at the whose eastern vertex is connected to the southern arm of the Dionysian walls. Inside the two rooms there were large cisterns for water reserves and barracks. In fact, the rooms lined up along the southern side dating back to the Byzantine era can be identified. A large tower marks the connection of the fortress with the arm of the Dionysian walls. Here, inside a recess that constituted a pincer system, a large door opened, originally equipped with three entrances, subsequently reduced to two. It was defended by a system of oblique walls that made it difficult to approach, and subsequently also by a large partially barred wall. On the southern side of the gate rested a strong interior with a trapezoidal plan, defended by a tower, and connected with a gallery to the third moat. It is believed that a large catapult was placed here.
Attached to the Castle there is an Antiquarium which exhibits evocative finds of the daily life that took place in the fortress flanked by traditional panels and supports multimedia for educational and illustrative purposes. Among the exhibits there are bullets for catapults to a bronze helmet, pottery in common use and also a relief depicting a catapult.

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