Disegno dei Santoni

Akrai was, according to Thucydides, the oldest of the subcolonies of Syracuse, founded in 664 BC, on the plateau between the two valleys of Tellaro and Anapo, in control of the hinterland.


The first to identify Akrai with the site to the west of Palazzolo Acreide was the historian and theologian Tommaso Fazello in the 16th century, but it was only with Baron Judica in the 19th century that real archaeological research began. The public area, arranged along the slope of the hill overlooking the modern town, is dominated by the presence of the theatre, the bouleterion, dating from the 3rd century B.C. and a probable thermal building with a central circular hall from the late Hellenistic period. On the acropolis, the foundations of an archaic temple from the second half of the 6th century BC remain, identified as the temple of Aphrodite, mentioned in an inscription. A road axis with an E-W orientation, interspersed with a network of secondary roads arranged in a comb pattern, connected the two city gates.


In the early Christian age, a complex of catacombs and funerary hypogeums opened up on the walls of some great classical age quarries: Intagliata and Intagliatella, creating a suggestive scenography. Along the southern slope of the Colle Orbo there is the so-called "Santoni", a sanctuary of the III century B.C. dedicated to the cult of the goddess Cybele, characterized by the presence of large rock carvings depicting the seated goddess in one kiosk.
Also from the Hellenistic age is the nearby sanctuary called dei Templi Ferali, dedicated to the worship of the dead worshiped as Heroes. Originally a quarry of stone, it has the walls entirely covered, at the bottom, with votive grooves.

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