Lat: 37° 3' 44.52847" N - Long: 15° 17' 48.36032" E
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Walking through Ortigia is an exciting experience: clean and well kept, with the main square in its classic white stone.
Ortigia is the oldest part of the town and has always been the living heart of Syracuse.
Syracuse has been the first capital of Sicily and until today holds the record of having been the largest metropolis in Sicily with its one million two hundred thousand inhabitants in ancient times.
Cicero called it "a metropolis so big as to inglobe four huge towns".
Actually in ancient times it was the largest town in Europe.
It was also among the first towns of Magna Graecia to be founded.
Its Cathedral is the first Christian church in Europe.
The Ara of Ierone is the largest votive altar in the world.
Even the Greek Theater of Syracuse is the first theater built in Sicily; furthermore, the cavea appears to be the largest in the Hellenic world.
The Syracusan Catacombs are, together with those of Rome, the largest in the world.
The temple of Apollo is the oldest of Sicily and of the entire Magna Grecia.
The "Paolo Orsi" Archaeological Museum is one of the first in Europe.
The Museum of Cinema in Syracuse is one of the three largest in Italy.
Last but not least, even Saint Lucia, the patron Saint of Syracuse, is the most revered Sicilian saint in the world.
The name Syracuse derives from the Sicilian Syraka or Sùraka (abundance of water) due to the presence of many watercourses and a marshy area.
In a few years, the town became "Pentàpoli" as the original nucleus, established on the island of Ortigia, was joined by four other groups: Acradina, Tiche, Neàpoli and Epipoli.
The territory is crossed by the rivers Ciane and Anapo, they are also mythological figures whose stories have been told by Ovid in "Metamorphosis".
The fame of Syracuse is closely linked to its Greek history, when the polis commanded the seas undermining the power of Carthaginians and Romans.
It was equipped with two ports: the first one called "marmoreal", as it was completely covered with marble, the second is giant, called "Porto Grande".
The most famous citizen of Syracuse was an absolute genius of all time: Archimedes.
Many testimonies remain from the Greek era.
In the archaeological area of Neapolis there are, in addition to other finds, the Greek Theater, the "Orecchio di Dionisio", the Ara of Hieron.
The town was formerly defended by a wall that had its peak in the Eurialo Castle, the only example of Greek fortress whose remains are still visible and that was never conquered.
Impressive are the latomie, stone quarries used by the Greeks to built the town.
It also has some temples; the most famous is the Temple of Apollo, only two columns remain about the Temple of Zeus instead.
About Roman era you can visit the Amphitheater, the Gymnasium and the gigantic network of catacombs.
Siracusa was the first town in the West where a Christian community was founded: directly from St.Paul.
In 663 it became for some years the capital of the Roman Empire of the East and lived its great period of splendor.
In 878 it was conquered by the Arabs, and with the arrival of the Normans, in 1040, numerous churches and large noble palaces were built.
Federico II built a marvelous castle in the terminal part of Ortigia.
In the fifties, following the phenomenon of the Madonna delle Lacrime, the construction of the homonymous sanctuary was begun and subsequently completed.
Syracuse is famous throughout the world for the presence of the papyrus, which grows luxuriantly between the banks of the Ciane and Anapo rivers, and in Ortigia grows spontaneously in the Aretusa spring; there is in fact an "International Institute of the Papyrus" and also a "Papyrus Museum" that maintain the memory of the ancient art of papyrus processing.
Since 2005, Syracuse has been recognized as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
What happened in Sicily: 27 November
Today we discover...
St George's Portal
An example of Gothic-Catalan architectural style
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