It is the most ancient Greek city in Sicily ( see the image). It is surely, the richest in Greek architecture, ruins and monuments, above all, in the Greek columns. It is also the home of the famous Greek philosopher, engineer and scientist Archimedes. I am speaking about Syracuse, the capital city of the namesake province Sicilian facing the southern side of Sicily’s coast and the Ionio Sea. Syracuse was colonized by Greeks in 734 BC. It saw the Tyrant Greek epoch and the rise of democracy always ruled by Greeks. Its places and surroundings were built just as Athens and for this reason Syracuse was regarded as the city twin of the Greek capital.
In Syracuse, the presence of the Greeks was very long. They fought many wars against the Carthaginians, by leading them up to Africa. During the Greek government, Syracuse went through a long period of prosperity. The things became more complicated after the Romans seized the city. They defeated the Greek Army and allied with Carthage. During the Roman Empire, Archimedes was killed by a bunch of Roman soldiers who besieged and plundered the city. The Roman Empire marks a period of anarchy in Syracuse. Later, the city endures other dominances such as Byzantines and Arabs. Syracuse also witnesses the battle of the so called Vespri Siciliani, the war fought between the Angevins and Aragoneses .
In 1693, the city was destroyed by the violent earthquake which razed to the ground entire Val di Noto. After this date, Syracuse was thus rebuilt following the Baroque style, which is prevalent in most of Sicilian cities. The main Churches in Syracuse are baroque, because made with a magnificent style, with high domes and arches painted with luxury religious pictures.
Among these churches, I want to recall the Cathedral of Santa Lucia ( see the image). The saint is the patron of Syracuse and her remains are still kept inside the Church. Another important place and a church, to visit in Syracuse, is the Sanctuary of the Crying Virgin ( Il Santuario della Madonna delle Lacrime). This sanctuary was built to recall the miraculous crying of a plaster face picturing the Saint Virgin Mary. During your travel into Syracuse, don’t forget to visit the Greek Theatre ( see the image). This theatre was built in the V century BC and later rebuilt during the Hellenic epoch and again during the Roman Empire.
It is placed on the archaeological site of Neapolis, at the foot of hill Temenite. Although the stage was entirely lost, t he theatre keeps also today its magnificence and largeness, it is filled with rows and its ruins allow you see an untouched memory of the Greek past. Every year, the Sicilian Government organizes many events in this theatre, above all, classic representations of the Greek tragedy. But Syracuse has also enticing and wonderful surroundings included in Val di Noto and in the nearby Ortigia island ( see the image). The latter is the heart of the ancient Syracuse. It linked to the main city through a bridge.
This area was declared a World Heritage Site by Unesco. The weather in Syracuse is Mediterranean, with mild and wet winter and hot summer. In the summer, you must see the beautiful places of this area, especially those in Avola and Noto. After the sea and the beaches, you can easily reach other important archaeological sites, such as Pantalica and a natural reserve in Noto: Vendicari Oasis. This natural reserve is still today unknown all around the world and I’ll speak about it better in another post.
To find accommodations in Syracuse for a few days or more, see here.