Why Visit Syracuse?:
Syracuse, Siracusa in Italian, was founded in 733BC on the island of Sicily. It was once a mighty Greek colony about triple the size of today's city. There are many Greek and Roman sites of interest, including a Greek theater and Roman arena. The vibrant modern city is interesting as well and Ortygia Island has ruins and a small historic center.
Syracuse is in the southeast of Sicily, on the east coast. It also includes the island of Ortygia. See Sicily Map
on Europe Travel.
Syracuse is on the train line that runs from Messina, Taormina and Catania along the coast. It can also be reached by trains from the mainland that connect via a ferry to Messina. If you're traveling by car from the mainland, you'll have to take the ferry to Messina, too. Buses connect Syracuse to many nearby towns and villages. The closest airport is Catania to the north of Syracuse.
Where to Stay in Syracuse:
Syracuse Sites and Attractions:
- The Greek Theater, the largest theater in Sicily, was begun in the 6th century BC and held 15,000 spectators.
- The Roman Amphitheater, one of the largest arenas of its kind, dates from the 3rd century AD.
- The Castle of Eurialo was an important Greek military installation built in the 4th century BC.
- The Altar of Hieron II, the largest altar in Magna Grecia, was built around 225 BC but only the base remains.
- Ear of Dionysus Cavern, Orecchio di Dioniso, is part of the huge stone quarry that provided the stone for the building of the city.
- Grotticelli Necropolis, at the end of one of the stone quarries, holds many tomb chambers carved into the limestone.
- The Street of Tombs is an ancient street with votive niches and Byzantine graves next to a grotto that was fed with water from an aqueduct.
- The San Giovanni Catacombs hold burial chambers for children, adults, and families. See Sicily catacombs
- Santa Lucia Church incorporated a Greek temple to Athena into its building and added a Baroque facade. It's built on the spot where Santa Lucia, Syracuse's patron saint, was martyred in 304AD. On Santa Lucia Day, December 13, a huge silver statue is paraded from the duomo to the church.
- Ortygia Island has a small but interesting historic center. It's duomo started as a 5th century BC Doric temple and was turned into a church in the 7th century AD. It has a dramatic Baroque facade. On the island you'll find temples, churches, squares, shops, and seaside bars. There's also an aquarium with Mediterranean sea life, fresh water fish, and tropical habitats.