Tuesday, January 25, 2022
Syracuse Travel Guide - Travel S Helper

Syracuse

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Syracuse is a historic city in Sicily and the seat of the Syracuse province. The city is famous for its rich Greek history, culture, amphitheatres, and architecture, as well as being the home of the great mathematician and engineer Archimedes. This 2,700-year-old city was a vital player in ancient times, when it was one of the Mediterranean world’s great powers. Syracuse is situated in the southeast corner of Sicily, near to the Gulf of Syracuse and the Ionian Sea.

Ancient Greek Corinthians and Teneans established the city, which grew into a great city-state. Syracuse, as the most prominent city in Magna Graecia, was allied with Sparta and Corinth and wielded power over the whole region. Cicero described it as “the largest Greek city and the most beautiful of them all,” and it was the same size as Athens in the fifth century BC. It was eventually included into the Roman Republic and the Byzantine Empire. Following this, Palermo surpassed it in significance as the capital of the Kingdom of Sicily. The kingdom would eventually be merged with the Kingdom of Naples to create the Two Sicilies until the Italian unification in 1860.

UNESCO has designated the city, together with the Pantalica Necropolis, as a World Heritage Site in the contemporary era. The city itself has a population of roughly 125,000 people in the center region. The locals are known as Siracusans. Syracuse is referenced in the Bible in the book of Acts of the Apostles at 28:12, where Paul stayed. Saint Lucy is the city’s patron saint; she was born in Syracuse, and her feast day, Saint Lucy’s Day, is observed on December 13th.

Tourism in Syracuse

UNESCO has designated the whole city of Syracuse, as well as the Necropolis of Pantalica, which lies within the province of Syracuse, as a World Heritage Site since 2005. This initiative attempts to classify, designate, and safeguard places of exceptional cultural or ecological value to humanity’s shared heritage. The deciding committee that evaluates potential candidates stated that Syracuse was chosen because “monuments and archeological sites located in Syracuse are the finest examples of outstanding architectural creation spanning several cultural aspects; Greek, Roman, and Baroque,” and that Ancient Syracuse was “directly linked to events, ideas, and literary works of outstanding universal significance.”

BUILDINGS OF THE GREEK PERIOD

  • The Temple of Apollo in Piazza Emanuele Pancali was converted into a church under Byzantine authority and then into a mosque during Arab rule.
  • The Arethusa Fountain on Ortygia Island. According to tradition, the nymph Arethusa sought refuge here while being pursued by Alpheus.
  • The Greek Theatre, with 67 rows split into nine sections and eight aisles, is one of the biggest caveas ever created by the ancient Greeks. There are just vestiges of the scene and the orchestra left. The building (which is still in use today) was remodeled by the Romans, who fitted it to their own type of shows, which included circus activities. The latome, stone quarries near the theatre, were also used as prisons in ancient times. The Orecchio di Dionisio is the most well-known latoma (“Ear of Dionysius”).
  • The Roman Imperial era Amphitheatre. It was cut partially out of the rock. A rectangular space in the center of the area was utilized for the scenic machinery.
  • Archimede’s Tomb at the Grotticelli Necropolis. Two Doric columns adorn the façade.
  • The Temple of Olympian Zeus, located approximately 3 kilometers (2 miles) outside of town, was erected about the 6th century BC.

BUILDINGS OF THE CHRISTIAN PERIOD

  • The Cathedral of Syracuse (Italian: Duomo) was erected in the 7th century by Bishop Zosimo atop the ancient Temple of Athena (5th century BC) on Ortygia island. This was a Doric structure with six columns on the short sides and 14 on the long sides, which may still be seen integrated in the contemporary church’s walls. The temple’s foundation consisted of three steps. The church’s interior has a nave and two aisles. The ceiling of the nave, as well as the mosaics in the apses, are from Norman times. Andrea Palma reconstructed the façade in 1725–1753, with a double order of Corinthian columns and sculptures by Ignazio Marabitti. The most important interior elements include a fountain with marble basin (12th–13th century), a silver statue of St. Lucy by Pietro Rizzo (1599), a ciborium by Luigi Vanvitelli, and an Antonello Gagini statue of the Madonna della Neve (“Madonna of the Snow,” 1512).
  • The Basilica of Santa Lucia extra Moenia is a Byzantine basilica erected in the same location as the saint’s martyrdom in 303 AD, according to legend. The present form dates from the 15th and 16th centuries. The gateway, three half-circular apses, and the first two orders of the belfry are among the oldest sections still standing. The Catacombs of St. Lucy are located under the cathedral. Caravaggio painted the Burial of St. Lucy for this church, which is currently located in the Church of Santa Luca alla Bada.
  • Shrine of Our Lady of Tears
  • San Paolo Church (18th century).
  • San Cristoforo Church (14th century, rebuilt in the 18th century).
  • The Church of Santa Luca alla Bada is a Baroque structure erected in the aftermath of the 1693 earthquake. It contains Caravaggio’s Burial of St. Lucy.
  • Santa Maria dei Miracoli Church (13th century).
  • The Church of the Holy Spirit (18th century).
  • The Jesuit College Church is a magnificent Baroque structure.
  • St. Benedict’s Church (16th century, restored after 1693). It contains a picture of Saint Benedict’s Death by Caravaggisti Mario Minniti.
  • The Church of the Concezione (14th century, renovated in the 18th century), with an adjoining Benedictine monastery.
  • San Francesco all’Immacolata Church, has a convex façade interspersed with columns and pilaster strips. It held the Svelata (“Revelation”), a historic festival in which an image of the Madonna was exposed at dawn on November 29.
  • The Normans erected the Basilica of St. John the Evangelist, which was demolished in 1693. It was built on an old crypt of the martyr San Marciano, which was subsequently destroyed by the Arabs and was only partly repaired. The main altar is Byzantine in style. It comprises the San Giovanni Catacombs, a complex of tunnels and chambers containing thousands of graves and many murals.

OTHER NOTABLE BUILDINGS

  • Castello Maniace, built between 1232 and 1240, is an example of Frederick II’s military architecture. It is a square building with four circular towers at each corner. The pointed doorway, which is adorned with polychrome stones, is the most remarkable feature.
  • The significant Archaeological Museum, which has finds dating from the mid-Bronze Age to the 5th century BC.
  • Palazzo Montalto (14th century), which has the original 14th-century façade with a pointed doorway.
  • Archbishop’s Palace (17th century, modified in the following century). It is home to the Alagonian Library, which was created in the late 18th century.
  • The modern Town Hall, Palazzo Vermexio, has elements of an Ionic temple from the 5th century BC.
  • Palazzo Francica Nava, with remnants of the original 16th-century structure.
  • Originally erected in the Middle Ages, Palazzo Beneventano del Bosco was considerably remodeled between 1779 and 1788. It features a nice inside court.
  • Migliaccio Palazzo (15th century), with noteworthy lava inlay ornamentation.
  • The Senate Palace, which has an 18th-century carriage in its court.
  • Dionysius the Elder erected the Castle of Euryalos, which was one of the most formidable castles of ancient times, 9 kilometers (6 miles) outside the city. It featured three moats with subterranean passageways that enabled the defenders to withdraw materials that the assailants might use to replenish them.
  • The museum at Palazzo Bellomo includes Antonello da Messina’s Annunciation (1474).
  • The Mikveh: a bath established during the Byzantine period for the purpose of ceremonial immersion in Judaism. It is located in the Giudecca, Syracuse’s old Jewish Ghetto.

Climate of Syracuse

Syracuse has a hot-summer Mediterranean climate (Köppen climatic classification Csa), with moderate to hot, dry summers and mild to rainy winters. Snow is rarely but not uncommon; the last substantial snowfall in the city happened in December 2014, however frosts are very rare, with the last one being in December 2014 at 0 °C.

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