Syracuse is a city on the southeast coast of the Italian island of Sicily. This city is the capital of the province of Syracuse and has a population of 122,000. As one of the oldest cities in the Mediterranean, Syracuse has a wonderful collection of historic sites from Greek and Roman times. Furthermore, this city was considered one of the greatest powers on the Mediterranean Sea during these ancient times and was allied with both the Spartans and the Corinthians.
In ancient times, rulers of Syracuse were involved in several battles with enemies such as Carthage and the Romans. Today the city has a flourishing economy, driven mainly by tourism, shipping and agriculture.
As Syracuse has been inhabited for thousands of years, it has a wide range of ancient attractions, including the Greek Theatre, the Temple of Apollo and the Castello Maniace. In addition, due to its coastal location, the city is very close to several world-class beaches, where tourists can enjoy the good Sicilian climate. As a tourist destination, this city has something for everyone and is one of the main historical sites on the island.
let's explore theBest things to do in Syracuse:
1. The Greek Theater
The Archaeological Park in the western part of Syracuse is undoubtedly one of the main attractions in the region.
Within this fantastic area are a number of ancient ruins, the most famous of which is the Greek Theatre.
Created in the year 470 a. C., this ancient amphitheater was the stage for some legendary plays such as Aischylos and Sophocles, and has a diameter of 138 meters.
Today, many of the originally semi-round seats survive in fantastic condition, although they are sometimes covered with wood to preserve their quality.
In addition, sections of the stage and set buildings can still be seen.
This is one of the best-preserved theaters in Sicily and a must-see when visiting Syracuse.
2. The Roman amphitheater
Another real gem within the Archaeological Park in the western part of Syracuse is the impressive Roman Amphitheater.
Like its Greek neighbor, this structure remains in a remarkable state despite its old age.
Built in the 3rd century, this amphitheater was partly made of real rock with a large arched doorway at each end.
Many of the seats on either side can still be seen, and you can also see the remains of the underground passageways and rooms that would have been used by the gladiators who fought here.
Although part of the structure is now overgrown, it still looks absolutely fantastic and the moss and vegetation give it character.
3. Heaven's Latomy
Syracuse has several different Latomias (quarries) which have been worked since the 6th century and quarried from stone.
This stone has been widely used in the construction of many of the cities monuments and houses.
The best known of these quarries is Latomia del Paradiso.
Inside this quarry there is an impressive gallery 60 m long and 11 m high: this cave is truly beautiful and calm, surreal.
Surrounded by beautiful forests, the quarry is well hidden and without looking you can't tell it's there.
This Latomy is also known as the Ear of Dionysus. Legend has it that if you stand at one end of the cave, you can hear whispered conversations at the other end!
4. Cathedral of Santa Maria delle Colonne
Known simply as the Duomo di Siracusa, this monumental cathedral is a truly beautiful structure and dates back to the 7th century.
The front facade of this cathedral is quite impressive: it features a series of columns and a series of stone statues representing legendary religious figures.
With an architectural style considered Sicilian Baroque, the cathedral has elements of Roman design, mixed with elements of the 17th century.
The interior of the cathedral is equally impressive, with high arched walls and an altar detailed with an array of religious paintings.
In addition, the church has an incredible stained glass window that represents the last supper.
5. Crypt and Catacombs of San Giovanni
The church of San Giovanni is an interesting structure in its own right and was created in the 6th century.
Although it was restored in several stages, it is now in ruins due to the devastating earthquake of 1693. If you go down the flight of stairs at the rear of the church, you can access the catacombs, these catacombs are extensive and even larger than the remaining copies in Rome .
Inside the catacombs you can see several crypts and some of the huge columns are still in almost perfect condition.
Furthermore, the entire structure features a myriad of designs and symbolism, as well as miles of underground passageways.
6. Archaeological Museum of Syracuse
Any city with such a rich ancient history certainly has an extensive archaeological museum, and Syracuse is no exception.
The Museo Archeologico is located on Via Teocrito and has a large collection of relics and artifacts collected from the surrounding region.
This is the most important historical museum in Sicily and has finds dating back to the prehistoric period.
The exhibits follow a chronological order and here you can find ceramics from the 6th century, bronze tomb reliefs, ancient weapons and tools and terracotta earthenware.
For any history buff, this place is pure heaven, but it also offers a fascinating insight into how Syracuse has developed over the years.
7. Latomia dei Cappuccini
Syracuse is famous for its large number of ancient quarries and cave networks that have been mined for hundreds of years.
Once such a quarry that exists today is Latomia dei Cappuccini.
This monumental quarry provided stone for the city's many historic structures and can still be accessed today.
Once an underground cavern, the quarry has now collapsed and is open to the elements.
All over the place you can see huge irregular columns that sprout from the ground at odd angles.
Furthermore, much of the quarry is now covered by a beautiful garden that was maintained by the Capuchin monks who live nearby.
This is a great place to explore and offers an interesting insight into the city's architectural history.
8. Temple of Apollo
As mentioned earlier, Syracuse has a large number of ancient sites and ruins that serve as vestiges of its historic past.
One such location is the legendary Temple of Apollo.
Located on the island of Ortigia, this temple is not as complete as other examples around the world, but it is still extremely fascinating.
This temple, which dates back to 570 B.C. C., is actually the oldest in Sicily and has had multiple uses over the years.
Today you can see the structure's rectangular foundations, much of the walls, and some of the ornate columns.
For more information about the temple and to see some of the finds collected here, you can visit the Archaeological Museum.
9. Castelo Euryalus
You can find the ruins of this once great castle to the west of the city centre, off the SP46 route.
Originally, this castle served as a stronghold for the Greeks during the reign of Dionysus around 402 BC. Over the next few years, the castle was modified, expanded and improved and became one of the strongest fortifications in Sicily.
Although mostly ruins, much of the foundation and layout of the keep and outer walls can still be seen.
In addition, it is possible to go through some of the ancient underground tunnels, and there is also a fantastic museum that explains the history of the castle in depth.
10. Castillo Maniace
At the southern end of the island of Ortigia is the historic Castle of Maniace.
If you go down Via Castello Maniace you will reach the castle.
Created in 1232, the castle uses local stone quarried from Latomia and was built by Emperor Frederick II. Originally, the castle was separated from the island by a moat, but it has now been filled in.
Today you can walk through the castle grounds, explore the battlements and look out over the bay and the Ionian Sea.
At the main gate there is a beautifully decorated portal, and the whole castle is still in a fantastic state.
11. Archimedes Square
In the center of the island of Ortigia is the charming Piazza di Archimede: this square is one of the main meeting areas on the island and has several notable features.
In the center of the square is the ornate Fontana di Artemide.
This fountain features a large number of magnificent sculptures depicting various ancient scenes and is also surrounded by some small palm trees.
Along the square there is fantastic architecture and several cafes such as Café Archimede and Café Tropical.
When walking the streets of Siracusa, this square is a great place to explore.
12. Visit the seaside town of Fontane Bianche
Further down the coast from the small town of Arenella is the charming seaside town of Fontane Bianche.
Home to a number of quality hotels and apartments, this charming seaside town is the perfect place to escape the city and enjoy a relaxing beach holiday.
Fontane Bianche has a beautiful horseshoe-shaped beach and golden sand that is soft to the touch.
Also, the water here is incredibly clear and warm and you can literally see your own feet as you walk.
Along the beach there are several beach bars and cafes where you can buy food and buy supplies.
Due to the amazing beach, the calm environment and the crystal clear waters, Fontane Bianche is truly a delight.
13. Arenella beach
Arenella is a small town in the province of Syracuse and is located approximately 20 minutes by car south of the city.
Locals often come here to relax and soak up the sun, and it's a truly beautiful stretch of coastline, perfect for a day trip from Syracuse.
The beach stretches for around 300m and around it there are some spectacular coastal areas to explore.
Incredibly clear turquoise waters gently lap the sand and provide the perfect opportunity to swim, snorkel or simply relax in a lido.
The main avenue of Spiaggia has excellent facilities and you can hire a sun lounger and parasol for a small fee.
In the town of Arenella you can find some quality restaurants to have a snack or a tasty meal.
14. Market of Ortigia
Local markets are always a great way to mingle, find a bargain and see how the locals live and trade.
Ortigia market is a brilliant place to explore and will leave your eyes in wonder from stall to stall.
As you walk towards the island, walk down Via Raffaele Lanza and you will see the market stalls that hug the buildings.
The market sells a wide variety of items, from spices and peppers to pastries, shellfish and fresh fish.
Here your senses will be invaded and you will be amazed by the beautiful colors, smells and landscapes of this fantastic market.
15. Duomo Square
One of the central squares on the historic island of Ortigia is Piazza del Duomo.
The main feature of the square is the aforementioned Cathedral, but it also contains other fantastic structures and is generally an interesting place to explore.
Other notable structures include the Palazzo della Superintendenza, the town hall and the Church of Santa Lucia alla Badia.
In addition, there is also a beautiful garden and several restaurants and cafes.
On certain days, a local market is held here, which is the perfect place to pick up bargains.
Where to stay:Best Accommodations in Syracuse, Italy
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