The Ear of Dionysius is an artificial cave situated in an ancient stone quarry, called Latomia del Paradiso, near the Greek theatre in Syracuse. It is 23 m high, it is 5 to 11 m wide and it extends 65 metres back into the cliff. The cave is S-shaped and it is able to amplify the sounds up to 16 times, probably this is the main reason why it was built. Its shape is due to the presence of an ancient acqueduct at the top of the cave.
According to the legend, its name was coined by the painter Caravaggio after his visit to the city in 1608 with Vincenzo Mirabella. It is thought, in fact, that the tyrant Dionysius ordered to dig a cave to lock up prisoners and, from the top of the cave, he could hear what they were saying. Another legend says that the shape of the cave amplified the screams of prisoners being tortured in it.
Nowadays visitors can’t access the focal point and hear the sounds but they can hear the echo during their visit.