Altar of Hieron

Syracuse, Italy

The Altar of Hieron is a monumental grand altar in the ancient quarter of Neapolis in Syracuse. It was built in the Hellenistic period by King Hiero II and is the largest altar known from antiquity.

The structure is aligned roughly north-north-west to south-east-east, and is located in the Neapolis. Almost nothing except the foundations of the structure survive today. The structure was partly built from masonry blocks and partially carved from the living bedrock. The altar itself is 20.85 metres wide and 196 metres long (exactly one Doric stade). This makes it the largest altar known from the ancient world.

The altar is mentioned by Diodorus Siculus, who attributes its construction to Hiero II. Stylistic analysis of the sculptural fragments from the altar confirms this, showing that they were made at the same time as the third phase of the nearby Greek theatre, which belongs after 235 BC. The votive deposit in the natural grotto under the eastern side of the altar shows that the area was already a sacred site in the Archaic period, not long after the city of Syracuse was established.



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Founded: 3rd century BCE
Category: Prehistoric and archaeological sites in Italy

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4.1/5 (based on Google user reviews)

User Reviews

Joshua Elzy (5 months ago)
Amazingly big, eclipsing the large altar in the Valley of the Temples outside Agrigento.
Robert Scheich (3 years ago)
No information availble in the park itself, a lot of Signs talking about plants. I think the focus should be the ruins. Without background information these are just rocks.
Radu Nechita (3 years ago)
Impressive remains of the past, well prezerved today, even it is not much. You can visit it by paying 16,5 euro, but you will find no historical refferences about it inside the Park. Wich means you do your homework before, reading about it, or pay extra to hire a audioguide or a local guide. There are no curators in this superb site, you will not receive even a cheap map for your money.
Richard Reaveley (5 years ago)
Didn’t get to see the park as we were harassed by some guy pretending to be a parking attendant and demanding money. When I asked for ID he refused and pointed to his t-shirt. When I tried looking up this name he became aggressive and came into my personal space. He walked away and I took a picture of him. He came back demanding I delete the photo and tried to take my phone off me. He then became more aggressive and threatening. As soon as I started saying let’s call the police he said free parking and walked away. Needless to say this wasn’t a pleasant experience and put us off going to the park incase our car was damaged on our return. The city should do something about these scams as it doesn’t give a good lasting impression of Siracusa.
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