Defined by Cicero as “the most beautiful city of Magna Graecia”, Syracuse has an extraordinarily varied cultural heritage which represents the historical evidence of its history as a thousand-year cultural capital, already from the Greek age to the Renaissance and Baroque periods.
Declared a UNESCO World Heritage City in 2005, Syracuse is located within a natural harbour, enclosed to the east by the island of Ortigia and to the south by the Epipolis plateau.
Already frequented by Greek and Phoenician merchants since ancient times, Syracuse was founded in 734 BC by Corinthian colonists and enjoyed a period of great political and cultural fortune becoming, in the 5th century BC, the capital of Magna Graecia, rivalling Athens first and Rome later.
Ortigia is the island that constitutes the oldest part of the city of Syracuse and is connected to the city of Syracuse through two permanent bridges. Walking through the historic centre, you can admire the Cathedral, with its Baroque façade that rises on the peristyle of the Doric temple of Athena of the 5th century BC, remodelled in the Norman era. Other important churches are that of St. John at the catacombs with the crypt of St. Marziano, and the Church of St. Lucia alla Badia with the painting by Caravaggio “Burial of St. Lucy”. In Pancali square, there are the ruins of the Temple of Apollo, a Doric sanctuary from the early 6th century BC. On the extreme tip of the islet of Ortigia, not to be missed is a visit to the Maniace Castle, an example of military architecture built by Frederick II in the first half of the 13th century.
The wonder increases when you move to the Neapolis district, where there are the remains of the Greek Theatre, the Roman Amphitheatre, the great Altar of Gerone – the largest altar of the Greek age that has come down to us – and the Grotta dei Cordari, (the ropemaker’s grotto) the most famous of the latomie. The archaeological richness, which can also be admired at the “Paolo Orsi” Regional Archaeological Museum, adds to the splendour of the Renaissance and Baroque buildings that characterise the city.
Syracuse and its province represent a true paradise for those who love nature: its coasts, which extend for over 100 km, have some of the most beautiful Italian beaches; four protected nature reserves are included in its territory: the Anapo valley, the Cava Grande del Cassìbile (Great Cave of Cassibile), the Pantani (marshes) of Vendìcari and the river Ciane with the Saline of Syracuse.

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