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You often heard that Siracusa is the greatest of the Greek cities and the most beautiful. Its fame is not usurped: it has a very strong position and it is furthermore very beautiful from whatever direction you arrive here both from the land or from the sea and it has two ports almost enclosed and almost embraced by the buildings of the city.
Siracuse is an ancient city of Sicily with almost 124.000 inhabitants. It is on the South East cost of the island and thanks to the historical richeness and the natural beauties it became Unesco Human Heritage site in 2005.
Its climate is typical of the mediterranean cities and it is mild and rainy in winter and hot and dry in summer.
The city was founded by Archia, a noble from Corinto, in 734 b.C. and its fame is connected to the Greek history when it was a danger for Cartagine and Rome. Under the tyrant Dionisio I, its influence was extending on the entire Adriatic Coast and many cities were founded at that time by Siracusa: Ancona, Adria, Issa. The testimonies of this greek period of Siracuse are still there. The Greek Theater, with a perfect acoustics, it is still used today for classic plays by the INDA Association. Also the Orecchio di Dioniso, an artificial cave from the extraction stome, is often used from theater plays in a very suggestive environment.
At Syracuse you will also find partially intact temples. The most famous is the temple of Apollo.
The Castello Eurialo is the only example of Greek fortress still intact.
The Cathedral of Syracuse was built around a Greek temple and walking in it you have the impression of walking through the history of religion in the West.
Even its Roman period is also very visibile. The Roman amphytheater, amongst the biggest ones in Italy, can still be visited as well as the Roman catacombs, the most extended ones after those of Rome.
In 535 Syracuse was conquered by Bizantine Empire and it became shortly after the seat of the Imperial Court especially for its perfect geographic position and this brought further glory to the city.
Syracuse was then conquered by the arabs and remain under their domination up to 1040 when the Bizantine Empire conquered it back. To celebrate this victory, Maniace, the conquerer, has built a fortress which was then extended by Federico II. The castle is now called Castello di Maniace.
In this period several churches were built such as the one of San Martino, of San Giovannello and of Santa Lucia al Sepolcro. The Church of Santa Lucia alla Badia hosts today a famous painting from Caravaggio.
In the territory of Syracuse there three Protected Areas:
Riserva Naturale fiume Ciano e Saline which is aimed to protect the papyrus and the salt mines
Area marina protetta del Plammirio which is aimed to protect the marine environment and the archeological finds in it.
Cavagrande del Cassibile which is aimed to safeguard the animals and plants of the area.
The city has different very interesting museums:
Regional Archeological museum Paolo Orsi which is a reference museum for the East of Sicily.
Bellomo museum where you can find art works from local and foreigner artists such as Antonello da Messina, Mario Minniti and the flemish Guglielmo Borremans.
Sea museum which collects the thousands years old history of this city connected to the sea.
Syracuse has been a destination for many famous travellers and amongst them the following important characters visited it: Eschilo, Plato Cicero, Caravaggio, Maupassant, Oscar Wilde, Sigmund Freud only to mention a few.
The city holds several primacies:
It is amongst the first cities of Magna Graecia based on the year of foundation.
The Duomo Aretuseo is the first Christian Church in Europe.
The Ara di Ierone is the biggest votive altar in the world (200 meters long and 23 large)
The Tempio di Apollo is the most ancient temple of the Magna Graecia.
In the city you can find the longest bicycle path of Europe (7 Kilometers)
The famous Ortigia Festival occurs every year in the city when several modern theater plays, sance and music show occur in the most suggestive spots of the city.
The typical cookery of Syracuse is delicious and is mostly based on fish. Famous are the polpo bollito (boiler octopus), il tonno con la cipolla (tuna fish with onions), la ghiotta (sea soup), and the sword fish.
From 29 August to 1 September there is the festival of the Madonna delle Lacrime to remember a miracolous event occurred in 1953 when a small paster picture of Madonna started to cry tears considered to be human.
On 15 August there is Festival of Our Lady of Assumption which happens with a very suggestive procession on the sea.
The city is also reach of daily and weekly fresh markets where you can buy the most delicious local food.Fontane Bianche and Ognina are two districts of the city which contain the most beautiful beaches of Syracuse and are touristic centers of great interest.