Area Archeologica di Akrai

Southeastern Sicily

Accessed via a 20-minute uphill walk from Piazza del Popolo (or an easy drive up Via Teatro Greco), the archaeological park of Akrai is one of the area's best-kept secrets. The city of Akrai, Syracuse's first inland colony, was established to defend the overland trading route to other Greek settlements. Nowadays, its ruins are an evocative sight. The most impressive (and obvious) ruin is the Greek theatre, built at the end of the 3rd century BC but later altered by the Romans.

A perfect semicircle, the theatre once had a capacity of 600. Behind it are two latomie (quarries), later converted into Christian burial chambers. The larger of the two, Intagliata, has catacombs and altars cut into its sides, while the narrower one, Intagliatella, has a wonderful relief of a large banquet cut into the rock face.

South of the archaeological zone is a series of 3rd-century-BC stone sculptures known as the Santoni (Holy Men), closed indefinitely for restoration.

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