Siracusa, or Syracuse, is one of the top cities to visit on the island of Sicily. Located on the island’s southeast coast, the city also includes the island of Ortygia.
Founded in 733BC, it was a mighty Greek colony about three times the size of
today’s city. Siracusa has a castle, churches, a great fish market, catacombs, and several Greek and Roman sites, including a Greek theater and Roman arena.
Plan Your Visit to Siracusa
Siracusa is on the main rail line that runs along the coast from Messina, Taormina and Catania, where there is an airport. 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, take the car ferry from Messina. Buses connect Syracuse to many nearby towns and villages.
Things to See and Do in Siracusa:
- Siracusa’s 6th century BC Greek Theater was the largest theater in Sicily, holding 15,000 spectators.
- The 3rd century AD Roman Amphitheater was one of the largest Roman arenas.
- Altar of Hieron II, built around 225 BC, was one of Magna Grecia’s largest alers. Today only the base remains.
- The 4th century BC Castle of Eurialo was a major Greek military structure.
- Orecchio di Dioniso, Ear of Dionysus Cavern, is part of the massive
stone quarry for stone that was used to build the city.
- Near the stone quarries, Grotticelli Necropolis holds many tomb chambers carved into the soft limestone.
- Street of Tombs is an ancient street with votive niches and
- Beneath the Church of San Giovanni just east of the archeological zone, San Giovanni Catacombs are filled with burial chambers.
- Santa Lucia Church was originally a Greek temple to Athena. It now has 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 in a magnificent procession.
- Siracusa has a lively seafood market, a great place to visit even if you don’t want to buy anythings.
- Ortygia Island has a small historic center with a cathedral that started as a 5th century BC Doric temple. It was remodeled to become a church in the 7th century AD and has an ornate Baroque facade. Also on the island are temples, churches, squares, shops, and seaside bars.
- An aquarium with Mediterranean sea life, fresh water fish, and tropical habitats is on Ortygia Island.