Siracusa (Syracuse) is the ancient home of Archimedes and Dionysius and strategically guards the Strait of Messina. The Greeks arrived in 750 B.C. to displace the ancient inhabitants: the Sicani, the Elymians and the Ligures. The ancient Greek settlement was founded by the Corinthians in 734 B.C. The Romans defeated the Greeks in Siracusa in 211 B.C. ending 500 years of Greek domination.
Siracusa is divided into two sections: the Archaeological Park on the mainland and the Island of Ortygia. The ancient city is connected to the mainland by the Umbertino Bridge. Ortygia is the site of the first human settlements and contains the town’s ancient history from as early as the 14th century B.C. The two most important monuments in Syracuse are the Greek Theater and the Athenaion, built to celebrate the victory against the Carthaginians at Himera in 489 B.C. This is the largest Greek theater in Sicily.
When Dionysius came to power in 405 B.C. he tried to resolve Syracuse’s defense system by transforming Ortygia into a military fortress. He constructed a fortress wall and castle. Visit the Ear of Dionysius in the Archaeological Park. It is a cave with an archway that resembles an ear. According to historical data, the tyrant of Syracuse listened to his enemies’ conversations using the cave’s acoustics.
The Temple of Apollo dates back to the early 6th century B.C. and is the oldest Doric Temple in Sicily. Over time, it was transformed into a Byzantine church, an Arab Mosque and finally into a Norman Basilica. The remains of the temple are magnificent with the foundation and four steps, two intact monolithic columns, portions of the trabeation (horizontal beams) and the remains of the southern wall.
The Piazza Archimede is located on Corso Matteotti past the 14th century Greek palace. The beautiful Artemis Fountain by Moschetti is dedicated to the goddess Diana the Huntress. It is surrounded by the Palazzo Platamone, Palazzo Gargallo, Palazzo Lanza Bucceri and the Bank of Sicily building.
In the late 6th century, the magnificent Greek edifice was transformed in a Christian Basilica. It was remodeled and embellished by the Normans. It also needed reconstructive work after the earthquake of 1542. The cathedral is dedicated to the birth of Mary and stands on the site of the original Temple of Athena. Many of the Temple of Athena’s original elements are intact. The left aisle of the church contains 10 columns from the Greek temple. The Baroque façade was initiated by Andrea Palma in 1728. It masks and retains vestiges of the Greek Temple of Athens including a Greek vase used as a font.
The Archeological Park has a Roman Theater and a Greek Theater carved into the hillside. The park was completed in 1955. The monuments that were located throughout the region were aggregated into this park.
The park houses Syracuse’s most important Greek and Roman monuments. It is divided into two sections: (1) the Roman amphitheater and the altar of Hieron II and (2) the Greek Theater, sanctuary of Apollo Temenite, the Paradiso, Venera and Intagliatella stone quarries and Grotticelli necropolises.
The ancient city of Syracuse is on the island of Ortigia. It was founded by the Greeks in 734 B.C. The Temple of Apollo and the Fountain of Diana can be found here. Syracuse includes the nucleus of what Cicero described as “the greatest Greek city and the most beautiful of all.” To learn more about Sicily read www.vino-con-vista.com Travel Guides and