It is located about 50km from Marzamemi and with its millennia of history makes it one of the Italian cities of greatest cultural-historical interest.
It was the birthplace of artists, philosophers and men of science such as Archimedes and Plato. Under the Greek domination Syracuse became one of the vastest metropolises of the Classical Age. Just think that during the Roman occupation Cicero defined it as “the biggest and most beautiful Greek city”.
After becoming the capital of the Byzantine Empire in the 6th century, the city was destroyed in the terrible earthquake of 1693 and rebuilt in the particular baroque style of the Val di Noto.
Today Syracuse is one of Europe’s principal cities of art and in 2005 was voted a UNESCO World Heritage site.
It possesses a vast heritage of architectural-religious architecture made up of Christian churches, monasteries and convents. Amongst the most noteworthy and venerable are the Church of Saint John at the Catacombs, the church of Saint Lucia alla Badia and the church of Saint Lucia at the Sepulchre.
Amongst the most recent structures are Syracuse’s Pantheon and the Sanctuary of the Madonna of Tears stand out. The latter was built to commemorate of the miraculous event attributed to the Madonna in ’53.
There many examples of civil architecture in Syracuse: the Greek Theatre, the Roman Amphitheatre and the Gymnasium. Most of the noble palaces can be found on the Isle of Ortigia since during the medieval period and the Renaissance the city was developed only internally.
The major points of interest are:
- The 14th century seat of the Regal Chamber.
- The 14th century Chiaramonte style Gothic Montalto Palace.
- The baroque style Vermexio Palace (or Palace of the Senate) which is now the Seat of the Syracuse Local Council.
- The Fountain of Diana and the Fountain of the Slaves to which must be added the more venerable Arethusa Spring and the Grotto of the Nymph which, together with the Galermi Aqueduct, represent Syracuse’s most famous water works.