Euryalus Fortress

Syracuse, Italy

The Euryalus Fortress was the key point in the fortifications of the ancient Greek city of Syracuse. It is located on the highest point of the hill of Epipolae.

During the Athenian invasion of Sicily (415-413 BC), the fortress did not yet exist, but the strategic importance of the area was clear; the Athenians initially captured the hill, but their failure to retain it prevented them from effectively besieging the city. The name Euryalus is mentioned by Thucydides in the course of the first Athenian attack on the city.

The fortress was first established by Dionysius I, tyrant of Syracuse. Construction took place between 402 and 397 BC, with the intention that the fortress would protect the city from siege and attack by the Carthaginians. Various renovations were subsequently undertaken in response to developments in siege weaponry, under Agathocles and Hiero II.

After the Roman conquest of the city in 212 BC by Marcus Claudius Marcellus, the fortress continued to be modified until the Byzantine period when parts of it were torn apart in order to repair the rest in light of Muslim invasion.

On 30 September 2016, an antiquarium was opened on the site, after a long closure resulting from the Santa Lucia earthquake of 1990. This building contains some of the discoveries from the site, including a sword, a helmet, and the missiles from a stone-throwing catapult.

References:

Comments

Your name



Details

Founded: 402-397 BCE
Category: Prehistoric and archaeological sites in Italy

More Information

en.wikipedia.org

Rating

3.8/5 (based on Google user reviews)

User Reviews

Klaus Buechel (6 months ago)
Closed for COVID-19 till further notice. 1 hour way too see ruins through a closed gate. No information about COVID-19 or opening hours in the www. Beside this a beautiful sight to siracusa
John Knoop (2 years ago)
Best seen with a guide who can explain how the fort was used by the 4th Century BC Greeks to defend Ortigia. The tunnels used to confuse trap and kill their attackers are quite remarkable.
Guido Allieri (2 years ago)
A must before to visit Siracusa
Giorgio Anselmi (2 years ago)
Closed! No notices, no info, just closed. Wednesday June 12, 10.30
Kamil Hajduczenia (5 years ago)
I don't know any other place in Sicilly that would be that silent and peaceful as Castello Eurialo at opening hours. Though navigating there is not an easy task, the place is worth the effort. I can't describe the experience of sightseeing with only guides available that time - hundreds of sunbathing lizards...
Powered by Google

Featured Historic Landmarks, Sites & Buildings

Historic Site of the week

Quimper Cathedral

From 1239, Raynaud, the Bishop of Quimper, decided on the building of a new chancel destined to replace that of the Romanesque era. He therefore started, in the far west, the construction of a great Gothic cathedral which would inspire cathedral reconstructions in the Ile de France and would in turn become a place of experimentation from where would later appear ideas adopted by the whole of lower Brittany. The date of 1239 marks the Bishop’s decision and does not imply an immediate start to construction. Observation of the pillar profiles, their bases, the canopies, the fitting of the ribbed vaults of the ambulatory or the alignment of the bays leads us to believe, however, that the construction was spread out over time.

The four circular pillars mark the start of the building site, but the four following adopt a lozenge-shaped layout which could indicate a change of project manager. The clumsiness of the vaulted archways of the north ambulatory, the start of the ribbed vaults at the height of the south ambulatory or the choice of the vaults descending in spoke-form from the semi-circle which allows the connection of the axis chapel to the choir – despite the manifest problems of alignment – conveys the hesitancy and diverse influences in the first phase of works which spread out until the start of the 14th century.

At the same time as this facade was built (to which were added the north and south gates) the building of the nave started in the east and would finish by 1460. The nave is made up of six bays with one at the level of the facade towers and flanked by double aisles – one wide and one narrow (split into side chapels) – in an extension of the choir arrangements.

The choir presents four right-hand bays with ambulatory and side chapels. It is extended towards the east of 3-sided chevet which opens onto a semi-circle composed of five chapels and an apsidal chapel of two bays and a flat chevet consecrated to Our Lady.

The three-level elevation with arches, triforium and galleries seems more uniform and expresses anglo-Norman influence in the thickness of the walls (Norman passageway at the gallery level) or the decorative style (heavy mouldings, decorative frieze under the triforium). This building site would have to have been overseen in one shot. Undoubtedly interrupted by the war of Succession (1341-1364) it draws to a close with the building of the lierne vaults (1410) and the fitting of stained-glass windows. Bishop Bertrand de Rosmadec and Duke Jean V, whose coat of arms would decorate these vaults, finished the chancel before starting on the building of the facade and the nave.

Isolated from its environment in the 19th century, the cathedral was – on the contrary – originally very linked to its surroundings. Its site and the orientation of the facade determined traffic flow in the town. Its positioning close to the south walls resulted in particuliarities such as the transfer of the side gates on to the north and south facades of the towers: the southern portal of Saint Catherine served the bishop’s gate and the hospital located on the left bank (the current Préfecture) and the north gate was the baptismal porch – a true parish porch with its benches and alcoves for the Apostles’ statues turned towards the town, completed by an ossuary (1514).

The west porch finds its natural place between the two towers. The entire aesthetic of these three gates springs from the Flamboyant era: trefoil, curly kale, finials, large gables which cut into the mouldings and balustrades. Pinnacles and recesses embellish the buttresses whilst an entire bestiary appears: monsters, dogs, mysterious figures, gargoyles, and with them a whole imaginary world promoting a religious and political programme. Even though most of the saints statues have disappeared an armorial survives which makes the doors of the cathedral one of the most beautiful heraldic pages imaginable: ducal ermine, the Montfort lion, Duchess Jeanne of France’s coat of arms side by side with the arms of the Cornouaille barons with their helmets and crests. One can imagine the impact of this sculpted decor with the colour and gilding which originally completed it.

At the start of the 16th century the construction of the spires was being prepared when building was interrupted, undoubtedly for financial reasons. Small conical roofs were therefore placed on top of the towers. The following centuries were essentially devoted to putting furnishings in place (funeral monuments, altars, statues, organs, pulpit). Note the fire which destroyed the spire of the transept cross in 1620 as well as the ransacking of the cathedral in 1793 when nearly all the furnishings disappeared in a « bonfire of the saints ».

The 19th century would therefore inherit an almost finished but mutilated building and would devote itself to its renovation according to the tastes and theories of the day.