"The Gardens of Paradise" Top 5 Page for this destination Latomia del Paradiso Tip by TheWanderingCamel
Latomia del Paradiso, Siracusa: 2 reviews and 10 photos
Strolling through the lush green Latomia del Paradiso (the Garden of Paradise) today, it's hard to imagine the misery that created this lovely place. The gardens are planted in the floor of one of the great quarries that supplied the stone for the city that was famed for its beauty, beauty built with the enforced labour of slaves, prisoners and captives of war, some of whom were the 7000 Athenians captured and carried into slavery when the Syracusians defeated them in a great sea battle in 413AD.
Latomie is Greek for cutting stone ( litos - stone and temno - cut) and cut stone they did - the quarry walls are 40 metres high. Cicero called it " a prison from which no escape is possible". Forced to work here in the dark - the limestone they were quarrying lay underground, they worked until they died from hunger and exhaustion or, if prisoners of war and they survived for seven years , to be branded and sold as slaves.
Greek Syracuse was built of limestone and so there were many quarries. The workers followed the seams of the best rock creating a labrynth of narrow quarries, shelters and caves. Earthquakes and erosion have enlarged them over the centuries and when the earthquake of 1693 broke the crust that covered them it also allowed sunlight to reach into the labrynth.
As well as the Lataomie del Paradiso , Latomia Intagliatella, Latomie dei Cappuccini and Latomie di S. Venera are open to the public. Other quarries lie beneath the modern city.
Latomie del Paradiso is one of the biggest and the deepest. It was used for a citrus grove for centuries but is now a beautiful garden of winding paths lined with oleanders, magnolias, citrus and pomegranates. A tunnel leads through from here into Latomia Intagliatella, one of the smaller quarries.
Latomie di Santa Venera was an open quarry that the Romans put to use as a cemetery, the Necropoli Grotticelle, with many cave tombs.
Address: Parco Archeologico della Neapolis, Siracusa
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