ITALY 5 - Syracuse - The city of St. Lucy
Where Archimedes was taught?
In Italy, in eastern Sicily is a center with incredibly rich history. It’s Syracuse, a city whose spiritual guardian is Saint Lucy, a patroness of writers, blind and suffering from dysentery. The local complex of the monuments is so big, that the whole Syracuse were inscribed on the UNESCO's World Heritage List. It’s easily understandable – you meet the history on every corner, you can even say that in such places our civilization was created. Here, the past meets the present, in the scenery of the ruins from before dozen of centuries we see the intensive development of the city. An important part of the Syracuse’s economy is farming (including cultivation of almonds, olives and grapes), as well as two ports: Porto Grande and Porto Piccolo, linked together with a canal, separating Ortygia Island from the mainland.
The city emerged in 733 B.C., and from the very beginning has been developing instantly, delighting visitors with its verve and beauty. It was one of the most powerful city-states in the Mediterranean, until the Punic War (212 B.C.), in which the famous Archimedes died.
Only the ruins of three Greek temples from the VI-V century B.C. remained in the city. One of them is a temple dedicated to Athena, integrated into the complex of the medieval cathedral, built in the Doric order. The biggest attractions of Syracuse include, for example, the famous Ear of the Dionysius, one of the most interesting stone quarries located within the Archeological Park. It’s a giant cave, which gives incredible sound effects. People visiting the city especially focus on the ruins of one of the Europe’s biggest Greek Theatre from the fifth century B.C., as well as the Altar dedicated to Zeus built by Pieron II. Till this day only the base of the altar remained, which was entirely carved in rock. Equally popular is also the fortress Euralios from the V-IV century B.C., as well as the Roman Amphitheater form II-IV century B.C, cut out of the rock on Temenite Hill. As the majority of the local monuments it was destroyed by Spaniards.
The remains of the ancient times are the biggest gems of Syracuse, however among the monuments of later epochs are many attractions which deserve our attention. The city has a few beautiful churches – especially interesting is the tenth century church of Saint Nicholas, located in the Archeological Park. The temple has features of the Norman buildings, it’s a bit thick-set and heavy, and inside you can find the remains of the Byzantine paintings. Also interesting is the twelfth century Church of Saint Thomas, as well as the temple of the patroness of the city, Saint Lucy from XII-XIV century. We can as well admire the splendor of the secular architecture, especially delicious palaces of the Sicilian aristocracy from XIII-XVIII century. In one of the most beautiful, Palazzo Bellomo, is located the finest collection of paintings in whole Syracuse.
Another attraction, important not only for worshippers, is Sanctuary of Madonna Della Lacrime, famous for the amazing painting of Our Lady showing her immaculate heart, which was discovered to be shedding tears on August 29, 1953. The phenomenon was examined many times, to finally confirm its authenticity. The crowds of worshippers began to arrive to pray under the image and finally they decided to built a temple there.
Ortygia – a floating Old Town
Being here, you cannot forget about visiting Ortygia, a little island with the historical centre of the city of Syracuse. In the ancient times it was a powerful fortress, which was protected by the thick walls with three gates. They were destroyed in the XIX century, because of what it became a simple, open district. To get to the island, you have to go through the bridge Ponte Umbertino. We’ll find here the oldest temple in Syracuse – a temple dedicated to Apollo, located by the Luglio XXV Largo. Today only few columns remained, as well as a part of the podium and pieces of cell’s walls. Nonetheless, the ruins make a huge impression on the visitors.
It’s no different, when the tourists admire the remains of the two quadrangular towers from V century BC. Most likely, they constituted a giant gate in the past. In the near proximity to the ruins of Porta Martina, is located the Church of Santa Maria dei Miracoli, in which you should focus on the renaissance portal – above it appears the lunette of the vaults with Virgin Mary, Saint Roch and Saint Sebastian. Deep inside Ortygia you can find the square of Archimedes (Piazza Archimede), along which dignified palaces are located. On the southern side of the square is located eighteenth century Palazzo Gargallo, as well as nighteenth century Palazzo Lanza-Bucceri. His contemporary stands on its western side – Palazzo dell’Orolgio. Each of them attracts the attention with the façade. Many of the medieval buildings were renovated and relished with baroque style. In the middle of the square is located another island’s attraction – genuinely beautiful Fontanna di Diane, created in 1906 by Giulio Moschetti Piceno.
With a camper to the island
Tourists visiting Syracuse use a various kinds of transport. One of them is an own camper – comfortable and the most independent form of travelling. An additional advantage is the possibility to see more attractions, especially that the access to Sicily is very easy, and the ferry to Sicily cruises very often. In the near proximity to Syracuse we can find a few recommended campsites, but no matter which one we choose, the choice will be good. After all, we’ll be staying in the region exquisitely beautiful.
One of the highly recommended places is Camping Rinaura (Agritourist, Strada Laganelli, 8 int. 13, Siracusa). It’s an year-round campsite, well adapted to the needs of disabled people, with a playground for children and a track to play jeu de boule. Here, for the double occupancy you will have to pay from 21 to 27 Euros/night, including the tourist dues, a pitch for your camper and the access to electricity. If someone will choose Syracuse for holidays, will definitely experience an amazing adventure, will feel the past not that immemorial, as dusty and covered with many layers of sand. It’s really worth to come here.
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