Syracuse is a historic city in Sicily, the capital of the province of Syracuse. The city is notable for its rich Greek history, culture, amphitheatres, architecture, and as the birthplace of the preeminent mathematician and engineer Archimedes. This 2,700-year-old city played a key role in ancient times, when it was one of the major powers of the Mediterranean world. Syracuse is located in the southeast corner of the island of Sicily, right by the Gulf of Syracuse next to the Ionian Sea.
The city was founded by Ancient Greek Corinthians and Teneans and became a very powerful city-state. Syracuse was allied with Sparta and Corinth and exerted influence over the entirety of Magna Graecia, of which it was the most important city. Described by Cicero as “the greatest Greek city and the most beautiful of them all”, it equaled Athens in size during the fifth century BC. It later became part of the Roman Republic and Byzantine Empire. After this Palermo overtook it in importance, as the capital of the Kingdom of Sicily. Eventually the kingdom would be united with the Kingdom of Naples to form the Two Sicilies until theItalian unification of 1860.
In the modern day, the city is listed by UNESCO as a World Heritage Site along with the Necropolis of Pantalica. In the central area, the city itself has a population of around 125,000 people. The inhabitants are known as Siracusans. Syracuse is mentioned in the Bible in the Acts of the Apostles book at 28:12 as Paul stayed there. The patron saint of the city is Saint Lucy; she was born in Syracuse and her feast day, Saint Lucy’s Day, is celebrated on 13 December.
The Greek Theatre of Syracuse was built in the 5th century BC, in the city of Syracuse in eastern Sicily. It was reconstructed by Hieron I in the 3rd century BC, and that setup is essentially preserved to the current day. It is a part of the Unesco World Heritage Site of “Syracuse and the Rocky Necropolis of Pantalica”.
Its cavea is one of the largest ever built by the ancient Greeks: it has 67 rows, divided into nine sections with eight aisles. Only traces of the scene and the orchestra remain. The edifice (still used today) was modified by the Romans, who adapted it to their different style of spectacles, including also circus games. Near the theatre are the latomìe, stone quarries, also used as prisons in ancient times. The most famous latomìa is the Orecchio di Dionisio (“Ear of Dionysius”). (Wikipedia).
The Arethuse is a fountain on the island of Ortygia in Syracuse, Sicily. The fountain is mentioned in a number of poems, for instance John Milton’s Lycidas (l. 85) and his masque Arcades, as well as Alexander Pope’s The Dunciad (Bk 2, l. 342) and William Wordsworth‘s The Prelude (Bk X, l. 1033); which they would have known from Virgil‘s Tenth Eclogue (l. 1) and Theocritus‘ Idylls (I, l. 117). Virgil reckons the eponymous nymph as the divinity who inspired bucolic or pastoral poetry.
Ortigia (Ortygia) is a small island which is the historical centre of the city of Syracuse, Sicily. Ortygia is located at the eastern end of Syracuse and is separated from it by a narrow channel. Three bridges connect the island to mainland Sicily. The island is an extremely popular place for tourism, shopping, entertainment and also a residential area.
The island, also known as Città Vecchia (Old City), contains many historical landmarks. The name originates from the Ancient Greek ortyx which means “Quail”.
Tomb of Archimedes – Necropoli Grotticelli
In the northeast corner of the Archaeological Park there is a long street strewn with graves from the Greek, Roman and Byzantine periods, which were carved into the limestone cliffs here. Among them there is also the famous “tomb of Archimedes”, which can be recognized easily by its gabled façade. According to legend, the famous mathematician, who died during the Roman siege of Syracuse in 212 B.C., is buried here. However, even the Roman writer Cicero noted that Archimedes was buried in front of the gate to Agrigento. The supposed grave of Archimedes is a Roman columbarium from the 1st Century A.D.