Overview & Brief History

Nestled on the southeastern coast of Sicily, Syracuse (Siracusa) stands as a city rich in history, culture, and architectural splendor. As one of the ancient world’s most powerful and influential Greek colonies, Syracuse boasts a heritage that spans millennia. Its historical significance, coupled with its charming waterfront and archaeological treasures, makes it a captivating destination for those seeking to delve into Sicily’s past.


A Brief History
Syracuse’s history dates back to ancient times, with its foundation attributed to Corinthian colonists in 734 BC. The city quickly flourished, becoming a major power in the Mediterranean under the rule of tyrants like Gelon and Dionysius. Its prominence is evident in its defeat of the mighty Athenian fleet during the Peloponnesian War in 413 BC.


The mathematician and engineer Archimedes, one of Syracuse’s most famous residents, made significant contributions to science and mathematics during this period. His inventions and discoveries, such as the Archimedean screw and principles of buoyancy, left an indelible mark on ancient knowledge.


Syracuse continued to be a pivotal player in the Mediterranean world, with notable rulers like Hiero II and Agathocles shaping its destiny. However, the city’s fortunes took a turn with the arrival of the Romans in 212 BC, leading to the Siege of Syracuse. Despite valiant efforts, the city fell to the Roman forces, marking the end of its Greek era.


Throughout the subsequent centuries, Syracuse experienced a series of dominations, including Byzantine, Arab, Norman, and Spanish rule. Each cultural influence left its mark on the city’s architecture, traditions, and way of life. The historic center of Syracuse, Ortygia, is a testament to this layered past, featuring Greek temples, medieval churches, and Baroque architecture.


Today, Syracuse stands as a UNESCO World Heritage Site, attracting visitors with its archaeological sites, ancient theaters, and the charm of Ortygia. The city’s enduring legacy as a center of Greek culture and learning, coupled with its modern vitality, ensures that Syracuse remains a captivating destination for those eager to explore the layers of its past.

Things to See & Do

Ortigia Island
Explore the historic heart of Syracuse on Ortygia Island, a charming labyrinth of narrow streets, Baroque buildings, and ancient ruins. Highlights include the Cathedral of Syracuse, built on the site of an ancient Greek temple, and the Fountain of Arethusa, a freshwater spring surrounded by lush vegetation.


Greek Theater
Immerse yourself in ancient Greek history at the Greek Theater, one of the largest and best-preserved theaters from antiquity. With a backdrop of the sea and the city, the theater offers breathtaking views and hosts performances, connecting visitors to the cultural legacy of Syracuse.


Ear of Dionysius
Witness the architectural marvel of the Ear of Dionysius, a limestone cave renowned for its exceptional acoustic properties. According to legend, the tyrant Dionysius used the cave to eavesdrop on prisoners. Visitors can marvel at the cave’s acoustics and the fascinating tales that surround it.


Archaeological Park of Neapolis
Step into the ancient past at the Archaeological Park of Neapolis, home to impressive Greek and Roman ruins. Explore the Roman Amphitheater, the Altar of Hieron II, and the Latomia del Paradiso, an ancient stone quarry. The park provides a comprehensive glimpse into Syracuse’s historical layers.


Maniace Castle

Admire the medieval charm of Maniace Castle, a fortress built by Frederick II of Swabia in the 13th century. Overlooking the entrance to Syracuse’s harbor, the castle combines Norman and Byzantine architectural elements. Its strategic location offers panoramic views of the sea and the city.

Local Dining

A Feast from the Deep…

Nestled amidst the vibrant streets of Ortigia, Syracuse, lies Cod da Saretta, a legendary eatery celebrated for its singular devotion to the art of fried cod. This unassuming establishment, with its simple white facade and bright blue accents, has become a pilgrimage site for locals and visitors alike, drawn by the irresistible aroma of crispy golden fish and the promise of an authentic Sicilian experience.


Sweet Endings…

Stepping into Levante is like stepping into a world of pure gelato joy. The brightly colored displays showcase a tempting array of flavors, ranging from classic favorites like pistachio and hazelnut to more adventurous options like ricotta and fig, and even seasonal creations that reflect the bounty of the Sicilian countryside.

Insider Tips

 Ortigia, the island heart of Syracuse, is a must-see, but don’t neglect the mainland. Discover the bustling markets of Ballarò and Fonte Nuova, wander through the historic streets of Acradina, and explore the Archaeological Park for an inspiring glimpse into Syracuse’s glorious past.


Syracuse offers a plethora of free events throughout the year, from cultural festivals and open-air concerts to art exhibitions and traditional celebrations. Embrace the local culture, mingle with the community, and experience the true spirit of the city.


Buses are efficient and affordable, and a 24-hour ticket is a good option. If using a taxi, use official taxis only and negotiate the fare beforehand.

Virtual Tours

Syracuse 4K Walking Tour

Cathedral of Syracuse

Boat Tour Around Ortigia Island


Interactive Maps

Explore the Fountain of Diana

Wander around Chiesa di Santa Lucia alla Badia

Play around Syracuse


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