What to see in Syracuse in 1 day? Map
Syracuse is an ancient city on the coast of Sicily, founded by the Greeks. Because of its ancient origins and its many interesting sites related to the period of antiquity, Syracuse is a UNESCO cultural heritage site. If you have only one day in Syracuse, we suggest you devote it to visit the old town, Ortigi, where the main cultural attractions are concentrated and where the first Greek settlements of Sicily originated.
In fact, in Syracuse it is better to stay for a longer period to see the city and sunbathe on the beach. If you get the chance, we recommend hotels in the city center, which you can book here.
You can see Syracuse on our proposed itinerary on your own or book a tour with a Russian-speaking guide here.
A large map of Syracuse with sights can be found in the appendix at the end of the article.
Temple of Apollo (Tempio di Apollo)
We will begin our tour of the historic center of Syracuse with the Temple of Apollo, one of the oldest Greek temples in Sicily. The temple is located in Largo XXV Luglio, connecting Ortigia with other areas of the city.
After seeing the temple, head along Corso Matteotti and head in the direction of Piazza Archimede. The name of the famous mathematician was not chosen for the main square for nothing: Archimedes lived in Syracuse in the 2nd century B.C. and his mathematical skills were even used to fortify the city.
Piazza Archimedes is the center of the intersection of all the main streets. Here you can see several original Baroque buildings: the Platamone Palace, the Lanza Palace and the Gargaglio Palace. But the main decoration of the square is not even the palaces, but the wonderful fountain of Artemis, topped with a majestic sculpture of the goddess surrounded by nymphs. If you haven’t had breakfast yet or just want to refresh yourself before a long walk we suggest you drink a cup of coffee with almond pie in one of the coffee houses in Piazza Archimedes and admire the architectural beauty of the center of Ortigi.
From Piazza Archimedes we head along Via Amalfitania towards Via Cavour. Here we turn left into Via Saverio Landolina to reach Piazza Duomo. In the square is the Cathedral of Syracuse, built on the ruins of the Doric temple of Athena in the 5th century BC. A few steps away is the church of Santa Lucia, considered the patroness of the city.
Walking from the church along Via Picherali, you can see one of the most interesting sights of Syracuse, the spring of Aretusa. It is dedicated to the myth of the nymph-hunter Aretusa: fleeing from the insistent advances of the river god Althea, Aretusa asked the goddess Artemis for help and she turned her into a stream of water.
Arethusa’s spring is a great place to take a break and rest in the shade of the trees.
Trattoria La Foglia Restaurant
If you’re hungry, try Trattoria La Foglia in a historic building near the spring (Via Capodieci 29). Here you can eat hearty bean soup, homemade pasta and fresh grilled fish, and there are also vegetarian dishes on the menu. On average, a lunch will cost 25-30 euros.
Museum of Medieval and Modern Art (Museo nazionale di palazzo Bellomo)
After dinner, you can visit the nearby Museum of Modern and Medieval Art (Via Capodieci 14).
To continue your walk in Syracuse, walk back along Via Capodieci back to the Spring of Arethusa. On your left you will find the picturesque promenade of Alfeo, which stretches along the coast and will lead you to the most remote part of the Ortigi, the Castello Maniace, a symbol of Syracuse’s glorious past. Today the castle houses a museum dedicated to history and archaeology.
Here we have visited all the main historical monuments of the Old City of Syracuse. It’s time to go back to Piazza Archimedes in the center of Ortigi to stroll through the local stores and reward yourself after a long day with a good dinner at one of the restaurants in Via della Maestranza. If you’re looking for Sicilian cuisine with a touch of Greek influence you’ll love the menu at Retroscena on Via Maestranza 106/108. A dinner with dessert and a glass of wine will cost you 25 to 30 Euros.
Another option is to take a boat trip to the Santa Lucia bridge and see the historic part of town from the sea. You will also be taken to the caves, carved by the sea in the walls of the city. The cost of the trip is officially 15 euros, but you can bargain for 10. Do not hesitate to bargain.
Park (Parco Archeologico Neapolis)
If you still have time left, or stayed in Syracuse for a few days, the Greek and Roman theaters are worth a visit. This huge park (Parco Archeologico Neapolis) is located in Neapolis. You can either walk there in half an hour from the historic part of the city or take bus number 2 from Molo San Antonio. Remember that a visit to the park will take you about 2 hours. The cost to visit is 10 euros and the park is open until 19:00.
Syracuse sights: the treasury of the ancient city
There is a common expression – “gray-haired antiquity”. It is surprisingly appropriate if we talk about the city of Syracuse, located on the Italian island of Sicily. The name of the city is known to many people, because everyone at school at least heard about the ancient Greek scientist Archimedes, a resident of Syracuse. By the way, Methodius, one of the founders (along with Cyril) of our alphabet, Cyrillic, was a native of this city. Sightseeing in Syracuse is very interesting!
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Syracuse was first mentioned in 734 B.C. and its streets are full of historical and archaeological sites. The oldest part, the small island of Ortigia, or Ortigia, is entirely a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
The mystery of the historical richness of this Sicilian city is not only due to its antiquity. It was historically home to Greeks and Romans, Byzantines and Arabs from Northern Europe. Each of these peoples did not destroy the cultural achievements of the previous masters, but preserved and supplemented them with their own.
When you come to Syracuse for a vacation or a tour, you should understand that all its attractions are mainly of historical importance. In the city will be interesting first of all to connoisseurs of history, fans of archeology.
People are always attracted not just by history, but by the most ancient history. It is represented in Syracuse by the so-called Archaeological Zone, which is where most tourists flock. In this area, representing the era of ancient Greece and Rome. As time passed, the city was built and grew. Many monuments of the Middle Ages and the new era appeared. The most popular are the following sites.
Cave “Ear of Dionysius”.
These are the remains of ancient quarries, located on the site of a natural cave. There are different versions of this name. The entrance to the cave, indeed, resembles the ear of a donkey or horse. The acoustics in the cave is amazing, it is not by chance that in Roman times this cavity was used as a theater. Legend has it that the tyrant Dionysius threw his prisoners and criminals into the cave: the splendid audibility allowed the guards to know what the prisoners were whispering about.
This is the name given to the other famous quarries in Syracuse. Stone blocks have been quarried here for centuries, eventually forming adits with amazing shapes that resemble bizarre halls with columns and pylons. Over time, many of the halls collapsed, given that Sicily has strong earthquakes. In the Middle Ages, the Capuchin monks took a fancy to this strange, abandoned place, and laid out a lavish garden here.
St. John’s Catacombs
There are other quarries in Syracuse, but they are much younger than the ancient ones. Here, in the first centuries of the new era, the early congregations of Christians gathered. The Catacombs of San Giovanni are popular with tourists who want to tickle their nerves in the gloomy dungeons. Tour guides are a must for untrained people, because it’s easy for them to get lost in the tunnels.
Many visitors tend to regard it as the city’s calling card. The theater is well preserved, given that it was built in the 5th century BC . It is located on a high hill with a wonderful view of the city. At one time the theater was one of the largest in Greece and later in Rome (the Romans held gladiatorial battles in it).
Unfortunately, in the Middle Ages, the Spaniards dismantled part of the structure to fortify the island of Ortigia. But even now the “auditorium”, cut out in the rocky hillside, can accommodate up to 15,000 spectators! This theater is considered a classic example of ancient architecture.
Like the quarry, the Greek theater has its “rival” in Syracuse. It is the Roman amphitheater. It is about four centuries younger than the Greek theater, but it rivals it in size-the third largest amphitheater in Italy, after the famous Colosseum and the amphitheater in Verona. Excavated by archaeologists in 1839, is elliptical in shape.
In addition to the large amphitheater, the Romans also left in Syracuse the largest altar for sacrifices, called the Altar of Hieron the Second. It was built three centuries BC and was intended as an offering to Zeus. It is said that 200 bulls were sacrificed here each year!
The ruins of the Temple of Apollo
The temple is the pride of Ortigia and predates even the Greek theater. Scientists discovered the temple in the mid-nineteenth century, but it was really opened to science by the legendary archaeologist Paolo Orsi. There is an opinion that the temple was the first large building in the city; its grandeur is indicated by the results of the excavations.
If you walk from the ruins of the temple along Via Matteoti, you can smoothly “move” in time from antiquity to the Middle Ages, and get to the popular Piazza Archimedes.
The fountain of Artemis, famous all over Italy, has the goddess surrounded by nymphs.
Piazza del Duomo and the Cathedral
Not far from Archimedes Square is another famous piazza, the Cathedral Square, with its majestic Duomo.
The cathedral sits on the highest part of the island, striking in its grandeur and solemnity. It looks no less magnificent from inside. It should be said that the view that the cathedral has now, it has acquired only in XVIII century. Before that, the building was radically rebuilt several times and was destroyed by time and earthquakes. Within its walls are a few ancient ancient columns – the modest remains of the temple of the goddess Athena, built by the Greeks. (And, by the way, excavations claim that even the Greeks erected the building on the site of an even older one, possibly created by the Carthaginians).
In front of the cathedral there is an amusing monument to Archimedes, whose aluminum figure is submerged in the ground as if in a layer of water (an allusion to his conjecture about body weight, which allegedly came to Archimedes while bathing in a tub).
Castello Maniace, on the seashore, is the pride of all Italy. It was built as a fortress, named after George Maniac, who conquered Sicily for the Byzantine Empire. In the past the castle-fortress was the residence of Sicilian kings, then there was a prison, military barracks. Nowadays the castle is full of tourists, it takes a lot of time to look around and is quite interesting.
Capelle del Sepolcro di Santa Lucia.
Caravaggio’s painting “The Burial of St. Lucia” is periodically shown in this church. This saint played a prominent role in the history of Syracuse, she is considered the patroness of the ancient city. The relics of the saint were originally housed in a tomb behind the city walls. The aforementioned Maniac stole them from the catacombs and took them to Constantinople. In the chapel there is still a trace of the destroyed wall in which the relics of the saint allegedly resided.
Church of the Madonna della Lacrimae
Unlike the previous sites, this building will not boast antiquity. On the contrary, it is very young, having been built in 1994. Nevertheless, the temple is incredibly popular among tourists, it is watched by everyone who comes to the city. Externally, the building resembles a giant badminton shuttlecock.
The Church of the Weeping Madonna (that’s how its name is translated) was built, with donations from townspeople. The building is visible from any part of Syracuse, especially because of the 20-meter tall Madonna towering over the structure. It used to be the site of a little church and one day tears allegedly flowed from the eyes of the icon of the Virgin Mary inside the church… It was decided to tear down the small building and build another, more pompous structure in honor of the miracle that was revealed.
Paolo Orsi Archaeological Museum
One of the most famous and prestigious museums in Europe, the largest museum of the island of Sicily. It has been open for almost a century and a half. Its huge halls represent the entire history of Sicily and Southern Italy. To get acquainted with all its exhibits, you should have a lot of time and energy, because the artifacts are placed on an area of about 12 km². Exhibits from ancient times predominate.
In Syracuse there are also several interesting museums, among which stand out the Museum of Papyrus and the Puppet Museum. The latter will be of interest to children.
Children also enjoy a trip to the Aquarium, near which the famous Arethusa Spring attracts attention. In the spring grows a special papyrus, and there is a legend that it was here, near the lake with fresh water, the city was born. If the water disappears – the life of ancient Syracuse ceases.
Of course, here is not a complete list of attractions of the ancient Sicilian city of Syracuse. It is worth coming here to see the streets of Syracuse, which became one of the cradles of European civilization!
Trips to Syracuse
Syracuse is an extremely interesting city. And the overview of Syracuse attractions presented here is far from complete. To understand the atmosphere of the city, you need to take a leisurely stroll through the streets of Ortigia, where every house breathes history. You can see the temples, admire the Ionian Sea. And of course hear the story of the city’s past, learn the history of this mighty outpost of ancient civilizations. You can read articles about the history of the city, but it is better to take an experienced guide and combine sightseeing with fascinating stories of these places.
You can read about excursions to Syracuse in our article “Excursion to Syracuse”. There are two ways to request a tour:
- Contact on WhatsApp, Viber + 79877903788 (Russia)
- Fill out the form below. We will contact you.
Syracuse sights on a map
For those who prefer to explore new places on their own, we have prepared an interactive map of Syracuse attractions. Enjoy it!