Syracuse is a historic city on the island of Sicily, the capital of the Italian province of Syracuse. Syracuse is located in the southeastern corner of the island of Sicily, near the Gulf of Syracuse to the Ionian Sea. The city is distinguished by its rich Greek history, culture, amphitheaters, architecture. Syracuse is also known as the birthplace of the high mathematician and engineer Archimedes.
This 2,700-year-old city has played a key role in ancient times, as it was one of the most important territories in the Mediterranean world. Today's city of Syracuse is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, along with the necropolis of Pantalica. Syracuse is even mentioned in the Bible. The patron saint of the city is St. Lucy, who was born in Syracuse. Her holiday, St. Lucy's Day, is celebrated every year on December 13. Syracuse has many attractions for visitors interested in historical sites such as the ear of Dionysius. The process of restoring the historic center of Syracuse has been going on since 1990.
Syracuse and its surroundings have been inhabited since ancient times, as shown by discoveries in the villages of Stentinelo, Ognina, Plemmirio, Matrensa, Cozzo Pantano and Thapsos, which were associated with Mycenaean Greece. Syracuse was founded in 734 or 733 BC. by Greek settlers from Corinth and Tenea, led by the hierarchical architect (coloiser). It is developing rapidly and very soon becomes a very strong city-state.
Syracuse became an ally of Sparta and Corinth and influenced all of Magna Graecia. Cicero describes it as "the largest Greek city and the most beautiful of them all." Syracuse even managed to catch up with Athens in the 5th century BC, and even competed with Rome and Cartagena. Syracuse later passed into the possession of the Roman Republic and the Byzantine Empire. Under Emperor Constance II, the city served as the capital of the Byzantine Empire (663 - 669). Palermo then overtook Syracuse in importance and took the position of capital of the Kingdom of Sicily. Eventually, the kingdom merged with the Kingdom of Naples to form the two Sicilies until the unification of Italy in 1860.
Since 2005, the entire city of Syracuse, including the Necropolis of Pantalica in the province of Syracuse, has been a UNESCO World Heritage Site. There is a committee that evaluates potential candidates, and it explains why it includes Syracuse - because the archeological sites and monuments in Syracuse are the brightest and best example of remarkable architectural creations covering the Greek, Roman and Baroque cultural aspects. In addition, the ancient city of Syracuse is closely associated with literary works, events and ideas of great universal significance.
The buildings, preserved in Syracuse and belonging to the Greek period of the city's existence, are:
- The Temple of Apollo, located on Piazza Emanuele Pancali. It was modified as a church during Byzantine rule and as a mosque during Arab rule;
- The Fountain of Arethusa on Ortygia Island. According to the legend, the nymph Arethusa, pursued by Alpheus, took refuge here. The water in the fountain comes from a freshwater spring and creates a small semicircular lake with fish, geese and ducks. The only natural papyrus in Europe can be seen in this lake;
- The Greek theater, undoubtedly one of the largest theaters built by the ancient Greeks. Inside the theater has 67 rows, which are divided into nine sections with eight aisles. The building, which is still in use today, was modified by the Romans, who adapted it to their different styles, including making it suitable for circus performances;
- The Roman amphitheater, which was partially carved into the rock; 
- The tomb of Archimedes, located in the Necropolis of Groticelli. It is decorated with two Doric-style columns; 
- The Temple of Olympian Zeus, located about 3 kilometers outside the city, built around the VI century BC.
Buildings from the Christian period, preserved to this day in Syracuse, are:
- The Church of Santa Lucia Alla Badia, located on Piazza Duomo;
- The Cathedral of Syracuse - an exceptional case of mixed architecture: a pagan temple and at the same time a Christian church. It was built by Bishop Zosimo in the 7th century above the great temple of Athens on the island of Ortygia. This is a Doric-style building, decorated with six columns on the short sides and 14 on the long sides. Today these columns are embedded in the walls of the present church. The interior of the church has a nave and two paths. The roof of the nave and the mosaics in the apses are a reminiscent of Norman times. The facade of the religious house was reconstructed by Andrea Palma in 1725-1753 with a double series of Corinthian columns and statues of Ignacio Marabiti. The most interesting parts of the interior are the Silver Statue of St. Lucy by Pietro Rizzo from 1599, the ciborium of Luigi Vanvitelli and the statue of Madonna del Neve from 1512, by Antonello Gagini;
- The Basilica of Santa Lucia is a Byzantine church that acquired its current appearance in the period XV-XVI centuries. The oldest preserved parts include the portal, the three semicircular apses and the first two rows of the bell tower. Under the church are the catacombs of St. Lucy. Especially for this church Caravaggio painted the funeral of St. Lucy, the work is now preserved in the church of Santa Luca alla Badia;
- The Church of San Filippo Apostolo with its Jewish Mikwa, dating from the XVIII century;
- The Church of San Paolo, dating from the XVIII century; 
- The Church of San Cristoforo, built in the 14th century and restored in the 18th century; 
- The Church of Santa Luca alla Badia is a Baroque building erected after the earthquake of 1693;
- The Church of San Giovanni Battista, dating from the 14th century; 
- The Church of Santa Maria dei Miracoli, dating from the 14th century; 
- The Church of Spirito Santo, dating from the 14th century; 
- The Church of the Jesuit College - a majestic, baroque building;
- The Church of St. Benedict of the 16th century. In it there is a painting by Caravaggio Mario Miniti depicting the death of St. Benedict; 
- The Church of San Francesco, which houses the "Revelation", which depicts the appearance of the image of the Madonna in the early morning of November 29;
- The Basilica of St. John the Evangelist, built above the ancient crypt of the martyr San Marciano. It was built by the Normans, but was destroyed in 1693. Unfortunately, it is only partially restored. Its main altar is Byzantine. The church houses the catacombs of San Giovanni.
It is very difficult to describe all the sights in Syracuse, simply because the whole city, every bit of it is a landmark. Let's pay attention to a few more architectural and historical jewelry.
Castello Maniace is a castle built between 1232 and 1240. It is located in the southernmost part of the island of Ortygia - a place filled with ancient ruins, craft shops and boutiques. It is named after a Byzantine named Maniac, who, with the help of Norman soldiers, conquered Syracuse from the Muslims. The castle was later rebuilt by Frederick II in 1239 and became an example of military architecture during his reign. It is a square structure with round towers in each of the four corners. The most impressive feature is the pointed portal decorated with polychrome marbles. Today it has been turned into a barracks and cannot be seen from the inside.
If you love castles, you are at the right place - head to Ortygia and visit one of the most picturesque castles on the island. Eurialo Castle was built by Dionysus I, a tyrant from Syracuse, to complete the ruler's strong defense system, the Dionysian Walls, which runs along the edge of the Epipoli Plateau. Walking through the ruins is like walking back in time - they say that the sound of soldiers' sandals still sounds.
Very interesting is the Archaeological Museum, which is important for its collections, including finds from the mid-Bronze Age to the 5th century BC.
The legendary Ear of Dionysius is the most famous cave in Syracuse. It is so called because of its ear-like shape, and especially because of its remarkable acoustic properties. According to legend, the tyrant Dionysus used it as a prison and overheard the conversations of prisoners. This is an artificial cave located in an ancient stone quarry called Latomia del Paradiso, placed under the Greek theater in Syracuse.
At the entrance to the island of Ortygia, which is connected to the city by the Umbertino Bridge, you will be greeted by the aroma of all kinds of spices, hot peppers from Etna, almond cakes, as well as seafood and fresh fish. A small market revived by colorful "banana" phrases in the Sicilian dialect. A walk through the market is a great opportunity to get to know local products and learn new Sicilian recipes.
Piazza Duomo is one of the most famous squares in Syracuse, as well as one of the most beautiful squares in all of Italy! Surrounded by majestic Baroque palaces, Piazza Duomo is the heart of Ortygia's civic and religious life. You can take a break, sit down for a drink and enjoy the atmosphere around you.

Rating 5 from 1 voted Syracuse, Italy