300 R°ute 35. SYRACUSE. Catacombs.
haven, with a narrow entrance capable of being closed, was se¬
parated by Dionysius from the open sea by means of an embank¬
ment. At the landing-place remains of the ancient naval magazines
are seen beneath the water. A direct path here diverging from
the road leads to Santa Lucia, erected on the spot where the
tutelary saint of the town is said to have suffered martyrdom.
The AV. Portal is the only part of the original church still extant.
Over the high altar the Martyrdom of the saint, by Caravaggio.
A passage from the r. transept leads past the tomb of the saint
to a half subterranean circular church, eontaining a statue of the
saint, of the school of Bernini. — To the 1. of the church a road
leads in about 8 min. to the church of
S. Giovanni, founded in 1182, to which date the \V. Portal
now alone belongs. The remaining portions are all of much later
date. A stair descends from the church to the crypt of St. Marcian,
where St. Paul is said to have preached. The church, built in the
orm of a Greek cross, is incontestibly one of the most ancient
Christian temples in Sicily. On each side is an apse, except on
the AV. where it is approached by steps. The church contains
the tomb of St. Marcian, who is said to have suffered martyrdom
by one of the columns of granite. On the walls are tlie remains
of Byzantine frescoes.
Adjoining this church is the entrance to the * Catacombs, the
imposing necropolis of Syracuse. (A'isitors knock at the door to
the r. of the church. The custodian, who is generally on the spot
until the evening, accompanies visitors with an oil-lamp; visitors,
however, are recommended previously to provide themselves with
an additional taper.) This subterranean city of the dead contains
stories, one below another, the aggregate length of which is esti¬
mated at 8 M. , and extends under the greater part of the lower
Achradina. The period of their construction cannot now be ascer¬
tained. That the early Christians buried their dead here is proved
by inscriptions and frescoes on the walls, but the origin of the
excavations is probably much more remote. They may also possibly
have served as quarries. The recent discovery in other localities
of the Phoenician mortuary chambers, which resemble the cata¬
combs in their formation, has given rise to the belief that they
date from a pre-Hellenic epoch. Other ramifications of the cata¬
combs have recently been discovered near the sea during the
construction of the railway.
The footpath passing the AV. front of the church is now fol¬
lowed. It turns slightly to the r. and leads in about 10 min. to
the Latomia Casale, which merits a visit on account of the plea¬
sant flower-garden laid out in it by the Alarchese Casale. About
4 min. walk farther the path is reached which leads from S. Lucia