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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4.2/5 (based on Google user reviews)

User Reviews

Richard Reaveley (17 months 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.
Phillip Spencer (19 months ago)
An impressive monument, the largest altar of it's time. Although it is not in so good a state now one can still get a good impression of what it must have been like in ancient times.
Elwin Lee (21 months ago)
Nothing much here, but the remains of what's once there is a pretty nice sight. Too bad you couldn't go down there. Not sure if it's normally open to visitors. I was there in February and the gate was closed, but you can still see it from afar.
Oleg Naumov (3 years ago)
I was impressed. It's huge.
Spiros Theocharis (3 years ago)
I wish this altar had been better preserved . It would really look so majestic. This huge altar dedicated by the Greek Tyrrant Hiero to Zeus , once hosted a sacrifice of 400 bulls.
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