“The ensemble of sites and monuments in Syracuse constitutes a remarkable testimony of the Mediterranean cultures over the centuries and it offers, through its remarkable cultural diversity, an exceptional testimony to the development of civilizations over three millennia.”
Every monument in Syracuse, Archimedes’ hometown, deserves to be admired in detail.
Guided tour of Syracuse
Ortygia, where it was first founded and whose name means quail, is the heart of the city. You will find a captivating ensemble of Baroque mansions and palaces, narrow medieval lanes embellished by flowery balconies in wrought iron.
The Cathedral of Syracuse is an astonishing monument with a layered architecture. It was built on the site of the ancient Temple of Athena, as can clearly be seen from the original Doric columns. They were incorporated into the building’s main structure, its façade is a striking example of Baroque style.
Then all around the square stand beautiful Baroque buildings, such as the Beneventano Palace that hosted the Commandry of the Order of the Knights of Saint John of Jerusalem. In 1806 it was visited by King Ferdinand III of the Kingdom of Sicily (House of Bourbon).
Saint Lucy is the city’s patron saint. She is venerated by both the Catholic and the Orthodox Church.
The major Italian poet Dante Alighieri mentions the saint, as he said she cured him. She also helped him out during his visit of the Purgatory.
In Syracuse you will also find the Santuario della Madonna delle Lacrime, a tear-shaped shrine dominating the skyline of the city. It houses an image of the Virgin Mary which was said to weep in 1953. Pope John Paul II inaugurated it in 1994.
But of course Syracuse is mainly known for its:
- the Greek theatre, one of the best-preserved
- the Latomie, ancient quarries dug out by the city prisoners, among which stands out the Orecchio di Dionisio (Ear of Dionysius)
- a Roman Amphitheatre for the circus games
Surprisingly you will also find plants of papyrus. In the Fonte Aretusa and along the Ciane river banks they thrive abundant and it is the only place outside Africa where they grow wild.
What to visit in Syracuse
- The islet of Ortygia
- The Cathedral
- The Fonte Aretusa
- The Greek Theatre
- The Roman Amphitheatre
- The Latomie