About 7 miles from Syracuse, near Belvedere di Siracusa, stands the Castle Euryalus (from the greek "Eurvelos": nail with a broad base), the largest and most complete military fortress that has come to our days from the greek period.
Built in a huge area of about 15,000 square meters., it is equipped with wide moats, towers, a drawbridge and underground trenches, which made the city of Syracuse impregnable. It was built by Dionysius the Elder in six years, between 402 and 397 BC, a period when Syracuse was at war with the Carthaginians. To strengthen the defense of the city, apart from building new ships and expanding arsenals, Dionysius decided to fortify the Epipolis (upper town) that during the Athenian siege occurred a few years before, had been the weak point of the defense system.
The construction was carried out by 60,000 men, who built a wall 5,000 meters long in defense of the North Epipolis in only 20 days, while the rest was built later, over the next 6 years. The entrance of this Castle is protected by 3 moats. The third moat was the most important, as it connected all the defensive system of the fortress.
In the north side it is blocked by a wall, in the south side there are 3 large pillars that supported the drawbridge. The 5 towers that we see after the third moat housed the balistas (catapults), which therefore were located higher than those of the enemies and could strike without being damaged by them.
Behind these towers is a huge open courtyard, which hosted, in the Byzantine period, the barracks of the soldiers. In the center of the courtyard there were water tanks. On the other side of the castle, the defense system consisted of two walls placed in front of the gates, which prevented the attacks of the enemy.
Inside the castle, a system of tunnels gave the ability to move troops from one point of the fortress to the other without being seen, in order to surround the enemy more easily. The Castle is located at the intersection of the Walls of Dionysius, a defensive system built by the tyrant Dionysius I of Syracuse, between 402 BC and 397 BC The walls completely encircled the ancient city of Syracuse for a perimeter of about 27 kilometers and at the highest point of the city encircled the Castle of Euryalus.
They are built with limestone taken from nearby quarries. Their thickness was varying between 3.3 meters and 5.35 meters and they were high several meters. 14 was the number of towers known, the largest of which measuring 8.5 x 8.5 meters.For its construction the tyrant used 70,000 slaves divided into teams of 200 slaves each and 6,000 oxen, who managed to place 300 tons of blocks per day.
Castle and Walls are accessible by public transportation:
Bus Circolare n.25 and n.26 (weekdays) and 11 (holiday)
Hours:daily from 9 to two hours before sunset
Ticket € 4,00
UE citizens* Under 25 € 2,00
Students, under 18 and over 65 free
UE students**, under 18 e over 60 y.o free entrance
Groups and teachers free entrance
*only UE citizens and citizens of some other countries such as Australia, New Zealand, Mexico, Brazil, Japan, Canada, Chile, Argentina and few others. Passport needed ** only students from UE and from above listed non EU countries of archaeology literature, philosophy, arts, architecture. Student's card and passport needed.