Sunday, February 21, 2010

Orecchio di Dionisio, Siracusa, Sicily

Our admission ticket to the Teatro Greco also included a visit to the Orecchio di Dionisio, or the Ear of Dionysius.

Right next to the theater is the Latomia del Paradiso or the Paradise Quarry.  It is filled with lush green vegetation and lemon trees.  The lemon trees were weighed down with fruit and Stef was tempted to pick some lemons. 


A short walk and we arrived at the famous cave called the Orecchio di Dionisio.  The cave was most likely formed out of an old limestone quarry.  It is a large cave and you can see that from the perspective of this picture.


The shape is like that of a ear, hence the name.  And because of this shape, the accoustics is really good so even a small whisper will resonate through the cave.


In one legend, the tyrant Dionysius used the cave as a prisonfor political dissidents where the acoustics allowed him to eavesdrop on the prisoners.  Another legend claims that Dionysius carved the cave in order to amplify the tortured screams of the prisoners.

And finally there's the possibility that the cave was formed naturally by rainwater run-off due to its position.  That seems plausible.  Why would someone go through the trouble of carving out such a huge cave for no apparent practical reason?  I guess this answer will remain a mystery.

1 comment:

Lilli & Evert said...

Hi, nice website you have with interesting subjects. My curiosity brought me to Dyonisos Ear, which my wife and I also visited last year. According to our history book, the cave was used to hold prison the workers/slaves, that worked on carving the blocks from this place. And as you say, any whisper could be heard, so any revolt among the slaves could be killed at its root.
All the best, evert friberg, Denmark

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