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Top 10 Most Beautiful and Best Places to Visit in Syracuse

Best Places to Visit in Syracuse

If words like “oldest,” “largest,” and “best preserved” pop up in the descriptions of many tourist attractions, don’t confuse Syracuse with the boast city. The city has one of the largest theaters in the entire ancient Greek world, a catacomb much larger than Rome, one of the largest Roman amphitheaters in Italy, and one of the most complete and fortified walls left from ancient Greece, these top cities. they all received these top ratings. Greek period.

Add to this a single-walled cathedral made of columns from the ancient temple of Athena, the second most important archaeological museum in Sicily, and the fascinating quarry that the Greeks and Romans found enormous. See why Syracuse tops the list of must-sees in Sicily.

Syracuse is combined with the rock cemetery of Pantalica, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Discover the best places to visit in this fascinating city with our list of the Best Places to Visit in Syracuse and make your trip enjoyable.

10 Best Places to Visit in Syracuse

Let’s explore the top 10 Most Beautiful and Best Places to Visit in Syracuse:

1. Museo Archeologico Regionale Paolo Orsi

Villa Landolina is Sicily’s second most important archaeological museum after Palermo. Its collections range from the prehistoric to the Byzantine period, but only those from the Classical period are on display; The remaining additional display areas are under construction.

The collection on display includes some rare and beautiful pieces, such as a surprisingly complete sixth millennium BC vase from the Stentinello civilization at Matelensa, bronze burial slabs from the Castelluccio necropolis, and several other Bronze Age finds.

Finds at Pantálica include a collection of red translucent vessels dating from the 13th to 11th centuries BC, as well as vases and bronze weapons dating to between 1270 and 1000 BC at the Montagna cemetery near Caltagirone. Exhibits provide detailed information on Greek colonization in the 6th century BC, and finds are organized by location: terracotta temple cornices at Naxos, terracotta gore masters around 450 BC, and ceramics from Attica.

An entire section is devoted to the model of the Temple of Syracuse, with detailed films and artifacts. Like the other exhibits, the sculpture collection is well presented, many of them and you can see them from all angles.

Address: Viale Teocrito 66, Syracuse

2. Santa Maria Delle Colonne

Like many other landmarks in Sicily, the charm of Syracuse Cathedral is that its evolution illustrates the island’s various eras and rulers. This is particularly evident in this building – the entire façade is made up of Doric columns from the ancient Temple of Athena.

The basilica was built around the temple in the seventh century and combined its columns, named Santa Maria delle Colonne as its columns are still visible. These Doric columns facing Via Minerva contrast with the Baroque façade, the wide steps leading up to it, and the statues of the Apostles Peter and Malabetti Paul overlooking the Piazza del Duomo.

The facades and other buildings surrounding the square were built in the 17th and 18th centuries; these include the Episcopal Palace, the Church of Santa Lucia Alabadia (1695-1703), the Palace of Beneventano del Bosco and the Town Hall.

The columns of the naves are made of brick, and eight arches are formed in the walls of each nave, making the nave a central nave, and the side naves from the side naves of the three-nave cathedral. The nave rises and the entire building is inverted, moving the entrance to the west, between the two original columns still visible.

After the 1693 earthquake, Andrea Palma built a portico with a vibrant baroque facade and elaborate steering columns. Many later additions, mostly Baroque, were removed during the restoration in 1927, but a few remain the wooden ceiling from 1517; a 12th-century Norman font on seven small bronze lions; a high altar in 1659; the Chapel of the Liturgy, built in 1653; San Zosimo in the Crucifixion attributed to Antonello da Messina, Statue of A. and G. Gagini in the left aisle. The restorers ensured that the ancient temple still shines but still reflects later contributions.

Address: Syracuse Cathedral Square

3. Neapolis Archaeological Park

The Greek Theater at the Parco Archeologico della Neapolis was one of the largest theaters in the entire ancient Greek Empire and was originally built around 470 BC by a builder named Democopus during the reign of Hero I. At least two of Aeschylus’ tragedies were premiered here, and works by Sophocles and Euripides were staged.

The theater was later changed and, as can be understood from the dedication written on the diatomaceous earth walls, it took its present form during the reconstruction, and the theater was built by King II. Hero was built after his son Gallo and his two wives. 215 BC BC

With a diameter of 138 meters, 61 rows of rock-cut seating can accommodate 15,000 spectators. The auditorium remains intact, except for the lowest row of seats, which was removed to make room for the orchestra playing in gladiator matches between AD 69 and 96.

The Roman amphitheater, which was built later, was designed for this purpose. The multi-story stage and landscape buildings that originally stood between two rock-cut cubes are long gone. There is a portico on the terrace above the theatre, and a lotus dedicated to the Muse on the rock wall behind it; the source still flows from one of the niches. On the left is a burial passage carved into the rock with Byzantine crypts.

Address: Parco Archeologico della Neapolis, Viale Paradiso, Syracuse

4. Latomia del Paradiso and the ear of Dionysius

Latomia is an ancient quarry that has been mined since the sixth century BC, resulting in more than 20 meters of digging into the limestone. The largest and most famous of these is Latomia del Paradiso, part of the Parco Archeologico della Neapolis.

One of the two underground galleries, 60 meters long, 5 to 11 meters wide and 23 meters high, was named l’Orecchio di Dionisio, the ear of Dionysius because of its acoustics. Legend has it that the tyrant Dionysius could stand at one end and even hear the whispering conversations of the prisoners held here, as the voices were amplified without echoing. The second gallery is the Grotta dei Cordari, at work by the rope maker. Just east of the Ear of Dionysius is Latomia di Santa Venera.

Address: Parco Archeologico della Neapolis, Viale Paradiso, Syracuse

5. San Giovanni Crypt

Originally built during the early Christian era, the church of San Giovanni was expanded in the sixth century, destroyed by the Saracens in the ninth century, restored by the Normans in the 12th century, and has been in ruins since the 1693 earthquake.

The main part still standing is the 14th century portal wall. From the church, a flight of steps leads to the 4th-century cruciform crypt of San Marciano and the adjacent catacombs, which are among the most imposing known catacombs in Rome and far larger than the catacombs in Rome.

The crypt was originally thought to be a Roman crypt, and you can still see the base of eight ion columns. It was later converted into a church in the third or fifth century, around which a three-domed complex in the shape of a Greek cross was built.

The patterns carved on the top of the columns show ancient and Christian symbols, and at the eastern end of the cellar is the altar where the Apostle Paul is believed to have prayed in 61 and St. Marcia’s tomb is found. . The adjacent Catacombs of San Giovanni are vast catacombs dating from the 4th to the 6th centuries, divided by a circular square at their intersections and a network of main and side roads.

Address: Via San Giovanni Alle Catacombe, Syracuse

6. Piazza Duomo and the Ipogeo

Probably the epitome of Sicilian Baroque architecture is Syracuse’s expansive Cathedral Square, a beautiful complex of carefully restored churches and public buildings. Along with the ruins of the Greek Temple of Minerva, the site also contains much of what UNESCO quotes in its “Historic Syracuse” title, “a unique witness to the three millennia of Mediterranean civilization’s development”.

You won’t see what’s under the cobblestones as you stroll through the square or stop at a cafe in the evening to admire the brightly lit façades. From the entrance under the Archbishop’s Palace gardens, you can go deeper into the square and explore the tunnels, the ancient quarry and the huge cistern below the Archbishopric Palace.

The Ipogeo di Piazza Duomo also played a role in later history. During the bombing of Sicily in WWII, thousands of residents gathered together and bombs exploded over their heads. Videos document the events and there are information panels in English. As you follow the tunnel along the route, you exit not from the Piazza Duomo, but a few blocks away, close to the sea.

7. Roman Amphitheater and Altar of Hiero II

Parts of this 3rd century Roman amphitheater were carved from the existing rock with entrances at either end. Under the front seats is a walkway for gladiators and wild animals used in competitions.

The original arena was built with stone over the part you see today, but it was completely dismantled by the Spanish and the stone was used to build walls around the old city. The arena is also suitable for competitions representing battles at sea. Today, you can only walk along its top.

The great altar of Hero II was built by Hero II, who reigned from 269 to 215 BC. During the annual Feast of Zeus Eleutherios, 450 bulls are sacrificed at this altar to offer a feast to the citizens. The 180 meters long and 23 meters wide rock-cut foundations are well preserved and you can see the sacrificial steps and ramps at both ends.

To the northeast of the amphitheater is the Necropoli Grotticelli, with its numerous tombs carved from soft limestone during the Greek, Roman and Byzantine periods. Below is the triangular façade of the so-called Archimedes Tomb. While the famous mathematician was actually killed during the Roman conquest of Syracuse in 212 BC, he was actually buried in Agrigento. The building is a Roman columbarium from the 1st century AD.

Address: Parco Archeologico della Neapolis, Viale Paradiso, Syracuse

8. Galleria Regionale

Palazzo Bellomo has an art museum with sculptures, paintings and decorative arts from ancient times. The first floor displays sculptures from the early Christian era to the early 16th century, including Domenico Gagini’s Madonna del Cardillo.

17th-century carriages and carriages are also on this floor, and an open staircase leads to the top-floor art gallery, where important works from the 14th to the 18th centuries are found. The highlight is the Annunciation of Antonello da Messina (1474), a large painting that underwent extensive restoration in 1917 and was not “restored” by experts in 1942. The process is explained in the text and photos illustrated with the picture.

Other notable works include Caravaggio’s St. Lucia’s Funeral, Flemish artist Willem Borremans’ Immacolata e Santi (1716), Filippo Paladino’s sketchbooks from 1544 to 1614, nativity scenes and large wooden models depicting Syracuse as in the 18th century.

Address: Via Capodieci 14-16, Syracuse

9. Eurialo Castle

Covering an area of ​​one and a half hectares, the castle is one of the strongest fortifications from the Greek era and was built during the reign of Dionysius between 402-397 BC. In the following years, until the 3rd century BC, the castle was remodeled to meet changes in military needs.

When Syracuse was besieged by the Romans in 213-212 BC, the giant mirror built by Archimedes is said to have been used to reflect the sun and fire the sails of the enemy fleet.

The castle is entered from the most vulnerable and sheltered side, and three nearby tombs are dug into the rock. Behind them, the main castle is guarded by five large towers. Later, a possibly Byzantine wall divided the east, and several wells supplied water during the siege.

Some underground passages still exist, allowing troops to pass undetected by the enemy. While the castle is in ruins, there is a surprising amount of ruins left, especially considering its age. There is a small museum next to the entrance. From here, the view of the old town and the port area of ​​Porto Grande is particularly impressive in the afternoon light.

Address: Viale Epipoli, Belvedere, Syracuse

10. Temple of Apollo

The Temple of Apollo, built around 570 BC and excavated in 1938-43, is the oldest Doric temple in Sicily. In later years, there were Byzantine churches, Islamic mosques, Norman churches, and Spanish barracks, reflecting the various ruling groups in Sicily. The foundations, some columnar columns and parts of the cellar walls have survived.

The massive monolithic columns, just 8 meters high, have only 16 grooves instead of the more common 20 and are so close together that the spacing between them is smaller than the diameter of the column. Items found here, including some terracotta painted roof sills (cymas), are now preserved in the Archaeological Museum. You cannot enter the temple ruins, but they are clearly visible from the fences that surround them.

Address: Largo XXV Luglio, Syracuse

Conclusion:

Hope you like our choice of the best places to visit in Syracuse. If you think there are some more beautiful places to visit in Syracuse, we should cover them. Write us below in the comment box.

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