Si Trova: a Siracusa
Lat: 37° 3' 26.41118" N - Long: 15° 17' 34.34954" E
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Located in a corner of the island of Ortigia overlooking the sea, the Fonte Aretusa is one of the most representative places of Syracuse.
It is a meeting point between history, nature and legend; pleasant place and mandatory destination for visitors of the town.
It is circular and is formed by water that flows from a cave.
Papyruses have grown spontaneously in the center of it for millennia; feature that makes the source, called by the Syracusans "Fountain of Papyruses", truly unique, also in consideration of the fact that those papyruses, together with that of Ciane and that of the Fiumefreddo river, are the only ones in Europe.
The Syracusans are very bond to this place that has always been a very important freshwater reserve within the town walls; particularity that allowed it to resist numerous sieges.
The myth of Arethusa and Alphaeus is linked to this source.
The legend tells about the nymph Arethusa who, to reject the irrepressible love of Alpheus, lets herself be transformed into a source by the goddess Artemis; on the other hand Alfeo, in order to join his beloved, is transformed into a river by Zeus, and since then he joins his own waters with those of Arethusa.
The origin of the legend is probably due to the source known as "Occhio della Zìllica", which still flows into the sea and which daily combines its waters with those of the nearby Fonte Aretusa.
Since ancient times, many have praised the poetry of this place which, however has not always remained the same as it is today.
Cicero described it as a source "of incredible breadth, very full of fish, whose flow would be completely submerged if it were not separated from the sea by a massive stone wall".
In 1169, after a violent earthquake, the source was no longer fed by water for a long period; reappeared later but with less flow and no longer with fresh water, but brackish, as it has remained today.
In 1540 the lake of the source, then about 200 meters long, was restricted to today's size by the Spanish due to the construction of the bastions around Ortigia.
Following the earthquake of 1693 the water became scarce and reddish again.
In the eighteenth century the fountain was reduced to a simple wash-house, but in 1847 it was freed from the walls of the bastions above, on which the lookout was built, and the Source took on the appearance that we can still admire today.
What happened in Sicily: 24 June
Today we discover...
Dionigian walls of Syracuse
The most extensive boundary walls of the classical world
Mura Dionigiane di Siracusa
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Last Inserted Points
One of the most representative sites of Sambuca di Sicilia comes-back from the waters
Gnuni has 676 Points!