Syracuse – the Greek heritage of beautiful Italy
Syracuse is one of the first Greek colonies on the territory of modern Italy. There are preserved architectural complexes from the ancient period, originally combined with modern buildings. Thanks to its geographical position Syracuse attracted traders, travelers and adventurers from all over the Mediterranean region.
How to reach the city
The nearest airport to Syracuse is Catania. Tourists transfer by shuttle buses that circulate regularly between the cities of Sicily. The distance from the station to the destination is 45 kilometers. A comfortable bus will spend no more than 50 minutes for the journey.
Budget tourists get to the island by ferry. Travelers rent cars or use their own transport. They move quickly along quality highways, stopping at roadside eateries.
How to reach the city
Main Tourist Locations
Once in Syracuse, head to the central square to the church of Santa Lucia alla Badia. Near the sacred structure there are summer cafes and local guides. The piazza periodically hosts concerts with provincial bands from all over Italy.
The best photos to spread through social networks tourists take near such objects:
- Paolo Orsi Museum of Archaeology; Tears of Our Lady;
- Arethusa Spring;
- Greek Theater;
- “Ear of Dionysius”.
Main Tourist Locations
Architectural sites are in a state of permanent reconstruction . Therefore, you will not be able to visit all the listed sites in one visit.
The main gathering place for gourmets is the fish market. The large market pavilions have been preserved in their original form since the 19th century. You’ll hear famous vendors beckoning passersby by shouting rhyming slogans.
The city attracts people interested in the development of Christianity in the Roman Empire. Pilgrims visit the catacombs with the burial of monks who were hiding from the persecution of state officials. The local caves are second only to the Roman underground communications.
Above the catacombs are the remains of the Church of St. John the Evangelist, built in the Byzantine style. The majestic structure is striking in its unusual facade. Here you can talk to the monks who tend the nearby orchard and sell souvenirs.
When traveling with a child, be sure to buy a ticket to the Puppet Museum (Aretuseo dei Pupi). Children will enjoy looking at the wooden and porcelain puppets. For a fee, you will be shown a performance based on the works of Italian storytellers.
Activities in Syracuse
In the eastern part of the peninsula there is a protected area called Plemmirio. Tourists are attracted by the well-developed beaches and inexpensive restaurants. Diving enthusiasts rent scuba suits to enjoy the colorful underwater fauna.
The beaches have amusement rides built for children and teenagers . They slide down slides into the coastal waves, supervised by attentive lifeguards. For safety, some parts of the coast are fenced with underwater nets. Therefore, a child will not find himself in deep water, without the permission of his parents.
Go to Sicily with the whole family as soon as possible. You will feel the inexpressible atmosphere of Southern Italy and make new friends!
Syracuse is a small commercial city in Italy, located on the southeastern coast of Sicily. On the island of Ortigia, separated by a narrow canal, lies the Old City; the other city quarters of Acradina, Tike, Neapoli and Epipolaia in Sicily itself were inhabited in 480 BC. The gulf of Porto Grande is one of the best and largest maritime harbors in Italy. Beautiful views and works of art have made Syracuse one of the most attractive tourist destinations on the island.
Save on a trip to Syracuse!
In Antiquity, Syracuse, a city founded in 734 BC by colonists from Corinth, was the largest and most powerful on the island, its circumference, according to the historian Strabo, was one hundred and eighty stadia (33 km) and its population was about 500,000 people. In the first Punic War Syracuse opposed the Romans, but then broke away from them, but in 212 B.C. Syracuse was subdued again. In 287 B.C. Syracuse-born mathematician Archimedes died here.
Chic boutiques can be found on Corso Gelone in the New Town and Corso Matteotti on Ortigia. Smaller, traditional stores hide in the streets of the Old Town, like. For example, the jewelry store Izzo on Via Roma or the pottery stores on Via Cavour. Many workshops still preserve the tradition of papyrus production.
The old town of Ortigna
The bridge of Ponte Nuovo is the way to the island of Ortiggia. A few steps from the bridge there are the remains of the temple of Apollo, built around 570 BC. It is the oldest Doric temple in Sicily and was later used as a Byzantine church, an Islamic mosque, a Norman church and a Spanish barracks. Corso Matteotti leads to Piazza Archimede, surrounded by a 14th- and 15th-century palazzo, with the fountain of Artemis in the center.
Piazza del Duomo and the Cathedral
Nearby is the beautiful Piazza del Duomo, surrounded by elegant 17th and 18th century buildings. The cathedral was built into the famous Temple of Athena in the 7th century. Since the columns of the temple are still visible, the cathedral is called Santa Maria delle Colonna. The ancient structure, after the victory over the Carthaginians at Imera, which was erected in 480 B.C., was well known in the ancient world. The present front door with the statues of the apostles Peter and Paul as well as the baroque facade were designed by A. Palma after the earthquake of 1693. Inside the cathedral we can notice the Norman font, the picture of Antonello da Messina depicting St. Zosimo and the sculptures of the artists of the Ghajini family. Next to the house is the town hall and the archbishop’s palace, opposite is the Palazzo Benedentano del Bosco, built in 1788.
Church of Santa Lucia alla Badia
From the cathedral square you can walk to the church of Santa Lucia alla Badia and then down the Via Picherali to the spring of Aretusa, a papyrus-covered body of water fed by a fresh water spring. The nymph Arethusa, fleeing from the pursuit of the river god Althea, threw herself into the morsel on the eastern shore of the Peloponnese, emerging from the water at Ortigia in ancient Syracuse – so says the Greek myth told by Virgil.
The beautiful Palazzo Bellomo houses the regional gallery. Exhibits include medieval and Renaissance works of art; adorning the collection of paintings are Antonello da Messina’s The Annunciation and Caravaggio’s The Burial of St. Lucia.
Fortress of Maniace
At the top of the island there is the Staufen fortress of Maniace, built around 1239, today it has a military unit and access to the castle is closed.
Paolo Orsi Archaeological Museum
The Paolo Orsi Archaeological Museum, one of the largest in Italy, is located in the Tyche area in the park of Villa Landolina. Its collection includes finds from the primitive era, as well as works of art from the early Christian and Byzantine cultures. Among the exhibits are famous ones such as the sculptural bust of Augustus from Centuripe and the sarcophagus of Adelphia from the catacombs of San Giovanni, decorated with relief images of scenes from the Old and New Testament. Here you can see the Venus Landolina with a dolphin, a copy of a Hellenistic work (2nd century A.D.). In the garden of the villa is the tomb of the German poet August von Platen (1796-1835). Opposite the museum, the monstrous Church of the Weeping Madonna, which was consecrated in 1994, rises into the sky.
In the city quarter north of Viale Paolo Orsi and west of Viale Teracati, where Neapolis was once located, there is now an archaeological park where you can see ancient structures. A beautiful view opens up from the Viale Rizzo, which runs along the high ground.
The Altar of Gieron II
To the north of Viale Paradiso is the enormous altar of Giron II, partly made of rock, sacrificed annually to four hundred and fifty bulls, then served to the citizens of the city during a festive meal.
The Sicilian premiere of Aeschylus’ tragedy “The Persians” took place in the local Greek theater. It is one of the largest theaters of Greek Antiquity, with a diameter of 138 m (by comparison, the diameter of the theater in Athens is 100 m) and sixty-one rows with approximately 15,000 seats for spectators. Under them are two tunnels that led to the orchestra. In even-numbered years, at the beginning of summer, performances of Greek plays (in Latin) were staged here. Above the theater is a colonnade and in the rock behind it is the Nympheum, dedicated to the Muses, in one of the niches and still running water from a spring flowing through an ancient channel. On the left is the road along the tombs carved in rock niches during the Byzantine era.
The Quarries of Latomia
The ancient quarries of Latomia were used as penal laboratories for criminals and prisoners of war from the 6th century B.C. onward. At first they were underground and their vaults were supported by arches. The largest and most famous of the quarries is the Latomia del Paradiso, the entrance to which is opposite the altar of Guieron. It has two tunnels, one of which is 60 m long, 5 to 10 m wide and 23 m high, and is called the Ear of Dionysus because of its acoustics. Legend has it that the tyrant Dionysius could even hear the whispers of his prisoners at one end of this tunnel at the other. The second pass is called Grotta dei Cordari, where the rope-workers have worked for centuries. Up the Via Paradiso, we reach the Roman amphitheater. It is in the III century and part of it is carved in the rock. Nowadays concerts are held there from time to time. About 500m north-east of the amphitheatre is the little church of San Giovanni alle Catacombe, built by the first Christians. A stairway down leads to the crypt of St. Marcian, made in the shape of a cross. This may have been the original site of the Roman hypogeum, and the dungeon acquired its present form in the 3rd or 5th century. From here the catacombs of San Giovanni start, a long, labyrinthine underground necropolis of the 4th or 6th centuries, where round squares are sometimes found at the intersections of the passages. A sarcophagus of Adelphia was found on one of them.
From the catacombs you can take the Via Augusto von Platen and then the Via Bassa Acradina to walk past Cimitero di Viña Cassi to Latomia dei Capuccini, a large, picturesquely overgrown quarry with strange rock carvings. The lush vegetation slightly softens the memory that here in 414 B.C. some seven thousand Athenians, taken prisoner, led a miserable existence, dying of thirst.
About 8 km north-west of the city center Epipolaia is today virtually deserted, while in ancient times it was a large district of a large city. About 400 B.C. Dionysius surrounded it with a fortress and long walls. During the siege of the city by the Romans (213-212 BC), the fortress was fitted with an incendiary glass, designed by the mathematician Archimedes, with which the besiegers set fire to the sails of enemy ships. It’s a good idea to take a boat ride from the port down the Chiane River. During the walk, one can admire the columns of the Olimion, temple of Zeus in the 6th century B.C. From the high thickets of papyrus flows the spring of Chiana, also called Fonte Chiane or Testa della Pisma. A nymph named Chiana, who tried to prevent Pluto from kidnapping Proserpine and carrying her away to the underworld, turned into a spring.