Siracusa (Syracuse)

The cathedral in Siracusa.


Siracusa: Temple of Apollo

The Temple of Apollo is one of the first things you see when you are entering the island Ortigia, which is joined to the mainland by three bridges.




Siracusa (en. Syracuse) - a historic city, the capital of the province of Syracuse. Together with seven other cities in the Val di Noto, Siracusa is listed among the UNESCO World Heritage Sites.

The Magnificent Cathedral (Duomo) in Siracusa

Duomo / cathedral in Syracuse

Detail of the decorative ornaments of the baroque cathedral in Siracusa.







Duomo, Siracusa

The facade of the Cathedral in Syracuse, a powerful Sicilian-Baroque composition erected in 1728-54. It was designed by Andrea Palma.

Photo: Per-Erik Skramstad / Wonders of Sicily


New and old: Spiderman and the cathedral in Syracuse behind him.



The statue of Saint Lucia, duomo, Syracuse / Siracusa

The statue of Santa Lucia (Saint Lucy).



Artemide fountain.

Photo: Mark Elderton


Baroque balconies in Syracuse.

Photo: Mark Elderton



The portal of the Norman church remain intact.




A boy playing melodies from The Godfather near the church Santa Lucia alla Badia (La chiesa di Santa Lucia alla Badia) on the south side of Piazza Duomo. Is it the missing Holy Grail he is collecting his money in?





The church of Santa Lucia alla Badia (La chiesa di Santa Lucia alla Badia) is located on the south side of Piazza Duomo. The Bavarian-baroque facade from 1695 is made by Luciano Caracciolo. Inside the church there is a very famous painting by Caravaggio (St. Lucia's funeral).

Photo: Per-Erik Skramstad / Wonders of Sicily



Detail of the ornaments above the entrance of Santa Lucia alla Badia (La chiesa di Santa Lucia alla Badia), Syracuse.

Photo: Per-Erik Skramstad / Wonders of Sicily



Photo: Mark Elderton


Photo: Mark Elderton



Siracusa coin, Sicily

Description: Sicily, Syracuse AV Dilitron. Emergency issue of the Second Democracy, winter 406/5 BC. Obverse die signed by 'IM...'. Head of Athena left, wearing crested Attic helmet decorated with serpent, palmette and elaborate spiral tendrils, [ΣΥΡΑΚΟΣΙΩΝ before, IM below truncation of neck] / Aegis with gorgoneion at centre. Boehringer, Essays Thompson, pl. 38, 12 = Hess Leu Sale (27 March 1956), lot 210 (same obverse die); Manhattan Sale I, 28 (same dies). 1.76g, 10mm, 7h. Near Mint State. Extremely Rare; one of very few known specimens - only one other on CoinArchives. Ex Roma Numismatics XI, 7 April 2016, lot 114.

The year 406 marked a desperate time for the Greeks in Sicily. A great Carthaginian invasion of Sicily had commenced in the Spring to punish the Greeks for having raided the Punic territories of Motya and Panormos. 60,000 soldiers under Hannibal Mago in 1,000 transports along with 120 triremes sailed for Sicily, where despite a plague that ravaged the ranks of the Carthaginian army and felled its commander, they successfully besieged and sacked Akragas, the wealthiest of all the cities of Sicily. After razing the city to the ground, the Carthaginians under their new commander Himilco marched east to Gela. Despite a spirited defence of the city by the defenders and the arrival of a relief force of 34,000 men and 50 triremes under Dionysios of Syracuse, the city fell after a poorly coordinated and unsuccessful attack launched by the Greeks. As Dionysios retreated from Gela first to Kamarina and then back to Syracuse, both of these now indefensible cities were sacked and levelled by Himilco's forces. It was against this backdrop of a desperate fight for survival that many emergency coinages were issued in Sicily. Gold was scarce in the Greek world and tended to be used only for emergency coinages, as in that famous instance when Athens in the last decade of the fifth century resorted to melting the gold from the statues of Nike on the Akropolis when cut off from their silver mines at Laurion. Gela, Akragas, Kamarina and Syracuse all issued emergency gold coinage in 406/5 BC, without doubt to pay the mercenaries they had hired in their doomed resistance to Himilco. The master engraver 'IM...' responsible for this coin is also known to have engraved Syracusan tetradrachms around this period (see Tudeer 67). Thanks a lot to Roma Numismatics!


Description: Sicily, Syracuse AR Tetradrachm. Deinomenid Tyranny. Time of Hieron I, circa 480/78-475 BC. Charioteer driving walking quadriga right, holding kentron and reins; Nike above, flying right, crowning horses / Head of Arethusa right, wearing earring and necklace, hair tied with pearl headband; ΣVRΑΚΟΣΙΟΝ and four dolphins around. Boehringer 330 (V163/R229). 16.83g, 24mm, 11h. Good. Very Fine. Thanks a lot to Roma Numismatics!




Coin from Siracusa (Museo Mandralisca, Cefalù)
Photo: Wonders of Sicily

Coin from Selinunte (Museo Mandralisca, Cefalù)
Photo: Wonders of Sicily



The Archeological Park

Siracusa: The Archeological Park


Siracusa: The Archeological Park


Greek theatre, Siracusa

The Greek theatre in the Archeological Park, one of the most celebrated of all the ruins of Siracusa. With its 138 metre in diameter, it is the largest Greek theatre in Sicily. To the right you see preparations for the evening's performance of Verdi's Aida.




Roman amphitheatre in Siracusa

The Roman amphitheatre in Syracuse (140m by 119m). It was used for gladiator fights. The rectangular depression was probably for the machinery used in the spectacles.



Fonte Aretusa

Fonte Aretusa

Fonte Aretusa, one of the most famous fresh-water sources of the Greek world. The pond was built in 1843.

Photo: Per-Erik Skramstad / Wonders of Sicily


The story of Arethusa (Ovid: The Metamorphoses V:572-641

Calliope sings: Arethusa’s story “Ceres, kindly now, happy in the return of her daughter, asks what the cause of your flight was, Arethusa, and why you are now a sacred fountain. The waters fall silent while their goddess lifts her head from the deep pool, and wringing the water from her sea-green tresses, she tells of the former love of that river of Elis. ‘I was one of the nymphs, that lived in Achaia,’ she said ‘none of them keener to travel the woodland, none of them keener to set out the nets. But, though I never sought fame for my beauty, though I was wiry, my name was, the beautiful. Nor did my looks, praised too often, give me delight. I blushed like a simpleton at the gifts of my body, those things that other girls used to rejoice in. I thought it was sinful to please. Tired (I remember), I was returning, from the Stymphalian woods. It was hot, and my efforts had doubled the heat. I came to a river, without a ripple, hurrying on without a murmur, clear to its bed, in whose depths you could count every pebble: you would scarce think it moving. Silvery willows and poplars, fed by the waters, gave a natural shade to the sloping banks. Approaching I dipped my toes in, then as far as my knees, and not content with that I undressed, and draped my light clothes on a hanging willow, and plunged, naked, into the stream. While I gathered the water to me and splashed, gliding around in a thousand ways, and stretching out my arms to shake the water from them, I thought I heard a murmur under the surface, and, in fear, I leapt for the nearest bank of the flood. ‘What are you rushing for, Arethusa?’ Alpheus called from the waves. ‘Why are you rushing?’ He called again to me, in a strident voice. Just as I was, I fled, without my clothes (I had left my clothes on the other bank): so much the more fiercely he pursued and burned, and being naked, I seemed readier for him. So I ran, and so he wildly followed, as doves fly from a hawk on flickering wings, as a hawk is used to chasing frightened doves. Even beyond Orchemenus, I still ran, by Psophis, and Cyllene, and the ridges of Maenalus, by chill Erymanthus, Elis, he no quicker than I. But I could not stay the course, being unequal in strength: he was fitted for unremitting effort. Still, across the plains, over tree-covered mountains, through rocks and crags, and where there was no path, I ran. The sun was at my back. I saw a long shadow stretching before my feet, unless it was my fear that saw it, but certainly I feared the sound of feet, and the deep breaths from his mouth stirred the ribbons in my hair. Weary with the effort to escape him, I cried out ‘Help me: I will be taken. Diana, help the one who bore your weapons for you, whom you often gave your bow to carry, and your quiver with all its arrows!’ The goddess was moved, and raising an impenetrable cloud, threw it over me. The river-god circled the concealing fog, and in ignorance searched about the hollow mist. Twice, without understanding, he rounded the place, where the goddess had concealed me, and twice called out ‘Arethusa, O Arethusa!’ What wretched feelings were mine, then? Perhaps those the lamb has when it hears the wolves, howling round the high fold, or the hare, that, hidden in the briars, sees the dogs hostile muzzles, and does not dare to make a movement of its body? He did not go far: he could see no signs of my tracks further on: he observed the cloud and the place. Cold sweat poured down my imprisoned limbs, and dark drops trickled from my whole body. Wherever I moved my foot, a pool gathered, and moisture dripped from my hair, and faster than I can now tell the tale I turned to liquid. And indeed the river-god saw his love in the water, and putting off the shape of a man he had assumed, he changed back to his own watery form, and mingled with mine. The Delian goddess split the earth, and plunging down into secret caverns, I was brought here to Ortygia, dear to me, because it has the same name as my goddess, the ancient name, for Delos, where she was born, and this was the first place to receive me, into the clear air.’ ” (Translated by A. S. Kline © 2000 All Rights Reserved This work may be freely reproduced, stored, and transmitted, electronically or otherwise, for any non-commercial purpose.)


Fontana Aretusa, Siracusa. Photo by Carlo Brogi

Fontana Aretusa, Siracusa. Photo by Carlo Brogi (1850-1925)


Giorgio Locatelli's soft spot for Sicily

The Italian chef Giorgio Locatelli tells of his soft spot for Sicily: "The island has so many magical places: the ancient amphitheatres of Syracuse; the little town of Erice, where there are more churches than houses; the Norman cathedral of Monreale. The Villa Romana del Casale, just outside the town of Piazza Armerina, has an incredible collection of Roman mosaics. They include beautiful mosaics of girls in bikinis. Romans! In bikinis! My kids thought that was so funny; they loved it."
Read more in The Guardian


The distance between Siracusa and some other cities in Sicily

Siracusa-Agrigento 217 km
Siracusa-Catania 66 km
Siracusa-Cefalù 249 km
Siracusa-Modica 72 km
Siracusa-Noto 38 km
Siracusa-Palermo 277 km
Siracusa-Ragusa 90 km
Siracusa-Taormina 118 km
Siracusa-Trapani 375 km



Kayak Polo (also known as Canoe Polo) in Syracuse.




And finally an espresso.
Photo: Torild Egge


Winston Churchill visits Syracuse in 1955


Sir Winston Churchill On Holiday (1955)



Silver tetradrachm coin, Siracusa, about 470 BC. British Museum

Silver tetradrachm coin, Siracusa, about 470 BC. British Museum.

Photo: Per-Erik Skramstad / Wonders of Sicily




Sicily: Some geographical names in Italian, Sicilian, English, Latin and Greek

  • Agrigento (Sicilian: Girgenti, Ancient Greek: Akragas (Ἀκράγας), Latin: Agrigentum, Arabic: Kirkent or Jirjent)
  • Agrigentum, Latin for Agrigento
  • Akragas (Ἀκράγας), Ancient Greek for Agrigento
  • Àsaru, Sicilian for Assoro
  • Assorus, Latin for Assoro
  • Assoros, Greek for Assoro
  • Baarìa, Sicilian for Bagheria (also the title of a film by Giuseppe Tornatore)
  • Balarm, Arabic for Palermo
  • Butirah, Arabic for Butera (one of the largest cities in Arab Sicily)
  • Càccamu Sicilian for Caccamo
  • Castrogiovanni (until 1926 Enna was known as Castrogiovanni)
  • Castrugiuvanni, Sicilian for Enna
  • Cefalù (Sicilian: Cifalù, Greek: Κεφαλοίδιον, Diod., Strabo, or Κεφαλοιδὶς, Ptol.; Latin: Cephaloedium, or Cephaloedis)
  • Cephaloedium or Cephaloedis, Latin for Cefalù
  • Cifalù, Sicilian for Cefalù
  • Egesta, Greek for Segesta
  • Enna (Sicilian: Castrugiuvanni; Greek: Ἔννα; Latin: Henna and less frequently Haenna). Until 1926 the town was known as Castrogiovanni.
  • Girgenti, Sicilian for Agrigento
  • Henna / Haenna, Latin for Enna
  • Hyspicae Fundus, Latin for Ispica
  • Ispica (Sicilian: Spaccafurnu, Latin: Hyspicae Fundus)
  • Jirjent, Arabic for Agrigento (also: Kirkent)
  • Kefaloidion or Kefaloidis (Κεφαλοίδιον / Κεφαλοιδὶς), Greek for Cefalù
  • Kentoripa, ancient Greek for Centuripe
  • Kirkent, Arabic for Agrigento (also: Jirjent)
  • Noto (Sicilian: Notu; Latin: Netum)
  • Notu, Sicilian for Noto
  • Netum, Latin for Noto
  • Palermo (Sicilian: Palermu, Latin: Panormus, from Greek: Πάνορμος, Panormos, Arabic: Balarm, Phoenician: Ziz)
  • Palermu, Sicilian for Palermo
  • Panormos (Πάνορμος), Greek for Palermo
  • Panormus, Latin for Palermo (from Greek: Πάνορμος, Panormos)
  • Sarausa, Sicilian for Siracusa
  • Selinous, Greek for Selinunte
  • Selinus, Latin for Selinunte
  • Siggésta, Sicilian for Segesta
  • Siracusa (English: Syracuse, Latin: Syracusæ, Ancient Greek: Syrakousai (Συράκουσαι), Medieval Greek: Συρακοῦσαι, Sicilian: Sarausa)
  • Spaccafurnu, Sicilian for Ispica
  • Syracuse, English for Siracusa
  • Syracusæ, Latin for Siracusa
  • Syrakousai (Συράκουσαι), Ancient Greek for Siracusa
  • Syrakousai (Συρακοῦσαι), Medieval Greek for Siracusa
  • Taormina (Sicilian: Taurmina, Greek: Ταυρομένιον Tauromenion, Latin: Tauromenium)
  • Taurmina, Sicilian for Taormina
  • Tauromenion (Ταυρομένιον), Greek for Taormina
  • Tauromenium, Latin for Taormina
  • Terranova is the old name for Gela (the fifth largest town in Sicily)
  • Ziz, Phoenician for Palermo