Are you thinking of visiting Siracusa, in Sicily, Italy? If so, you’re in for a treat! This beautiful city is full of history and culture. And it’s definitely worth a visit.
History of the city
Siracusa is one of the most interesting cities of Sicily, like Palermo, Noto or Acireale. It was founded by the ancient Greeks in 734 BC and has been inhabited ever since. The city has seen plenty of ups and downs over the years. Indeed, from 415 BC to 1492 it was conquered by the Athenians, the Romans, the Arabs, and the Normans, it became part of the Kingdom of Sicily, then it went under the control of the Spaniards. Although in 1693 a violent earthquake reduced it to rubble, erasing many of the architectural treasures of the past, all these different rulers have left their mark, influencing the architecture, art, cuisine, and culture of Siracusa. That’s why this city is so fascinating!
To tell the truth, that earthquake had a positive effect: the city was entirely rebuilt in the Baroque style, of which today it represents one of the best examples.
What to see in Siracusa
Siracusa (or Syracuse) is on the east coast of Sicily, partly on the mainland and partly on the island of Ortigia. This position gives visitors the chance to enjoy stunning views of the Mediterranean Sea.
The city is home to several parks and gardens where you can relax and take in the sights. Of course, there are plenty of historical sites to see. In our opinion, these are the top attractions that you won’t want to miss:
1) The Neapolis Archaeological Park
This park is home to some of the most important historical sites in Siracusa, including the Greek Theater and Roman Amphitheater. The Greek Theater was built in the 5th century BC and is one of the most well-preserved Greek theaters in existence, while the Roman Amphitheater was built in the 3rd century AD and could seat up to 20,000 people. Both of them are still used for performances.
In the archaeological park, you also will find the Ear of Dionysius, a huge limestone cave that was used as a prison in ancient times, and the Fountain of Arethusa, which is a beautiful fountain built in the late 19th century and surrounded by a pond where you can often see flamingos.
2) Palazzo Bellomo and the Paolo Orsi Archaeological Museum
The archaeological museum is housed in the 18th-century Palazzo Bellomo, which is one of the best examples of Sicilian Baroque architecture. It contains a wealth of artifacts from Siracusa’s long history, including some from the Greek and Roman periods.
3) The Duomo of Siracusa
The Duomo is Siracusa’s main cathedral, built in the 14th century. It’s a beautiful example of Sicilian Baroque architecture and houses some important works of art, including a painting by Caravaggio. There are many other churches worth visiting, such as the Church of San Francesco Borgia and the Church of Sant’Agata.
4) The Castello Maniace
This imposing castle was built in the 13th century by Frederick II of Hohenstaufen. It’s located on the island of Ortigia, on a cliff overlooking the sea and it offers stunning views of the city and the surrounding area.
5) The Villa Romana del Casale
This villa is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and contains some of the best preserved Roman mosaics in the world. Moreover, it’s located in a beautiful setting, surrounded by mountains.
Ortigia is the island on which you find the historic center of Siracusa. This part of the city is full of narrow streets, beautiful buildings, and lovely squares. Be sure to explore it!