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Regional Archaeological Museum, Siracusa

The Paoli Orsi Regional Archaeological Museum in Siracusa, Sicily, is one of the most important archaeological museums in southern Italy. Its artifacts, found throughout Sicily, survey the Greek, Roman, and early Christian epochs.

Museum Overview

Crafted from glass, steel, and Plexiglas and designed as an ultramodern showcase for its ancient objects, this is the kind of museum that reinvigorates an appreciation for archaeology. It was founded in 1967 and opened to the public in 1988.

Its stunning modernity is in direct contrast to the portrait busts and vases unearthed from around the island. Laid out like a hexagon, the museum is set in a garden dotted with ancient sarcophagi.

The Collections

Section A displays exhibits from before the dawn of recorded history. There are fascinating skeletons of prehistoric animals here, including dwarf elephants. Many artifacts illustrate life in Paleolithic and Neolithic times. Look for the stunning red-burnished Vase of Pantalica.

Section B is devoted to Greek colonization. The celebrated Landolina Venus is here, without a head but alluring nonetheless. After all these centuries, the anatomy of this timeless Venus is still in perfect shape. A Roman copy of an original by Praxiteles, the statue was found in Syracuse in 1804. When he visited the town in 1885, Guy de Maupassant fell in love with this Venus and left a vivid description of her.

Of a completely different style is a marvelous fanged Gorgon, its tongue sticking out, that once adorned the cornice of the Temple of Athena to ward off evildoers. Although it's not the equal of the Landolina Venus, the singular limestone block of a Mother-Goddess suckling twins dates from the 6th century BC and was recovered from a necropolis.

Section C centers on the sub-colonies and Hellenistic centers of eastern Sicily. It's a hodgepodge of artifacts and fragments, including votive terra-cottas, sarcophagi, and vases from Gela. Interspersed among some dull artifacts are stunning creations such as an enthroned male figure from the 6th century BC, a horse and rider from the same era, a terracotta goddess from the late 6th century BC, and a miniature 6th-century-BC altar with a relief depicting a lion attacking a bull. There are also three rare wooden statues from the 7th century BC (found near Agrigento) and spiral-carved limestone door slabs from the Bronze Age.

Quick Facts on Regional Archaeological Museum

Site Information
Names:Paolo Orsi Museum; Regional Archaeological Museum; Regional Archaeological Museum, Siracusa
Visitor and Contact Information
Location:Siracusa, Italy
Coordinates:37.076451° N, 15.286628° E  (view on Google Maps)
Lodging:View hotels near this location
Note: This information was accurate when first published and we do our best to keep it updated, but details such as opening hours can change without notice. To avoid disappointment, please check with the site directly before making a special trip.

Map of Regional Archaeological Museum

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  1. Frommer's Sicily.
  2. Eyewitness Travel Guide to Sicily.

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Article Info

Title:Regional Archaeological Museum, Siracusa
Author:Holly Hayes
Last updated:07/09/2009
Link code:<a href="http://www.sacred-destinations.com/italy/siracusa-regional-archaeological-museum">Regional Archaeological Museum, Siracusa</a>