Cave of Nymphaeum in Syracuse

Cave of Nymphaeum in Syracuse

Andrea Rapisarda - CC2.0


 Via del Teatro Greco- Siracusa (SR)

The Grotta del Ninfeo is an artificial cavity carved into the rock of the Temenite hill, in the Archaeological Park of Neapolis.
The cave has inside a fountain inspired by the Greek cult of the nymphs, divinities of nature from which the name of the cave derives. At its entrance were placed the statues dedicated to the Muses, three of which are now on display at the Paolo Orsi Archaeological Museum.
The Nymphaeum is thought to have been the ancient seat of the Mouseion, the sanctuary of the Muses , seat of the guild of artists. Here the Syracusan actors used to meet before going down to the theater to act.
The cave has a vaulted ceiling, inside there is a rectangular basin, in which the water that cascades from a cavity is collected placed in the rocky wall. Next to the entrance wall there are some votive shrines that were used for the practice of the cult of heroes. To the east of the Grotta del Ninfeo there is a water mill from the Spanish era. This received water from the cave and poured it towards the theater, after having used it for grinding grain.
An image of how the cave looked in the second half of the 18th century has come to us thanks to the work of the painter Jean- Pierre Hoüel: the gouache shows a cave deeper than the current one and with the water flowing down through the theater on which mills were installed.

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