What to see in Syracuse in one day, one-day itinerary including Greek theater, Dionysus's ear, archaeological museum, Eurialo castle and Duomo.
About the historical origins, the first nucleus of Syracuse dates back to 734 BC, erected on the Ortigia peninsula, considered by sailors to be an easy landing place in that part of the island. Subsequently the city extended towards the hinterland.
In the period before the fall under the Roman Empire, the city expanded its influence over the whole territory of Sicily and on the southern part of the Tyrrhenian Sea and the Adriatic Sea, distinguishing itself for its considerable political and military power, as well as for its cultural wealth.
After the Roman domination, Syracuse experienced the Norman, Swabian, Angevin, Aragonese, Spanish and Bourbon ones. During the conquest of Libya, the port of Syracuse assumed the basic role for communications between the motherland and the colony.
Currently the city includes an old part, located on the island of Ortigia, and a new part, divided by the dock and joined by the Ponte Nuovo.
Despite the fact that Ortigia represented the cradle of Syracuse, few evidence remains of its past, including the Temple of Apollo, the Fonte Aretusa, the Maniace Castle with a square plan and angular cylindrical towers, located on the far reaches of the Ortigia peninsula.
Other monuments and historic buildings of interest are the Cathedral, the Church of the College, the Roman Gymnasium, the National Archaeological Museum, the National Museum of Palazzo Bellomo, the Theater and the Latomie.
Next to it is the Statue of Archimedes, one of the most famous characters of Syracuse, portrayed while maneuvering a mirror of his invention, thanks to which a legend tells that he managed to set fire to enemy ships from the top of a hill.
The Greek Theater, used for theatrical performances and popular assemblies, was built in the years around 220 BC, by Demokopos, during the reign of Jerone II.
Today only the remains remain, after the damage suffered and the removal of material suffered over the centuries.
Excavated in the rock, with the exception of the highest steps that were instead reported, with a diameter greater than 138 meters and a cavea of 50 steps, it is considered one of the largest of the Greek era.Recommended readings
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In the Roman period, before the construction of the appropriate amphitheater, to make the theater compatible with circus games, the orchestra was enlarged, narrowing the stage, and an iron barrier was added for the safety of the public.
The Ear of Dionysius is an artificial cave that owes its name to the particular shape of the entrance that resembles the ear canal of the human ear. To note the amazing echo effects inside the cave.
In the old town, in Piazza Duomo, there is the National Archaeological Museum, the largest in the region dedicated to the knowledge of pre-Greek, Greek and Roman Sicily.
The museum also contains various works attributed to primitive man, most of the preserved materials were found during excavations at Enna, Gela, Agrigento, Megara Hyblaea, Akrai and Syracuse.
On the first floor of the building it is possible to admire the pre-Hellenic collections with materials ranging from the Paleolithic and Mesolithic civilizations up to the Bronze and Iron Age, as well as a topographical section of Greek Sicily, some rooms concerning the Christian and Byzantine Antiquities of Sicily .
On the ground floor, a room is dedicated to the archaic architectural monuments of Syracuse, other rooms are instead used for Greek and Roman sculpture, for Christian and Byzantine art.
The busts of Demeter and Kore, coming from Agrigento, the grave goods of a warrior of the fourth century BC with armor, belt and iron sword, a goddess enthroned and a head of Augustus deserve to be remembered.
Eurialo Castle was built by Dionysius the Elder in 402 BC. with the aim of defending Syracuse from the attacks of the Carthaginians.
It constitutes the best military work of the Greek period, the western side is protected by three ditches dug out of the rock, the trapeizodal keep has five imposing partially collapsed towers. The supply of water in the event of a siege was ensured by huge tanks placed inside.
The Anapo river is the most famous of the rivers that flow down to the Ionian coast, thanks to the originality of the surrounding landscapes and the battles that took place along its banks.
After crossing the narrow Pantalica gorge, with access openings to the tombs of the largest Sicilian Necropolis, the Anapo flows into the Grand Port of Syracuse.
The Grotta dei Cordari takes its name from the Cordari who work inside it.The ancient stone quarry, with its vault resting on rock columns and with dense maidenhair vegetation, has an aspect of extraordinary beauty.
Fonte Aretusa was sung by Virgilio and Pindaro. From it also abundant water flows which turns out to be brackish, probably due to some infiltrations of sea water.
Tales of Greek mythology narrate that the nymph Arethusa, persecuted by the river Alfeo, threw herself into the sea transforming herself into a source, however always chased by Alveo who reunited with her mixing her own waters with hers.
The steep church of San Giovanni Evangelista, repeatedly destroyed and punctually rebuilt over the centuries, stands in the same place where the first bishop of Syracuse, San Marciano, was buried in the third century.
The Cathedral of Santa Maria del Piliero or delle Colonne stands out for its imposing and richly decorated facade, which has two orders of Corinthian columns and has statues of San Pietro and San Paolo on the steps.
It was built starting from 1728, completed in a few years, by architect Palma to replace the Norman facade which collapsed during the 1693 earthquake.
It should be noted that Syracuse is also renowned for the wonderful beaches that are located a few kilometers from the city, including Calamosche beach, better known to locals as "Funni Musca", located in the coastal stretch between Vendicari and Noto.