Siracusa is a charming city, “the biggest and most beautiful Greek city” as Cicerone called it, was founded by settlers from Corinth in 734 B. C. The wonderful old town in Ortigia and mainland Siracusa still bear witness to the culture and art that have flourished in it over the years. You cannot but fall in love with the place.
Greek civilisation was known for its marvellous temples and the most ancient temple in Sicily was built here: the Temple of Apollo. Just a short distance away stands the Ionic Temple (or Artemision), rediscovered in the basement of the Senate Palace that still shows its original structure.
There are also a few remains of the Temple of Olympian Zeus; it dominated the Grand Harbour overlooking Ortigia, Plemmirio and Saline. The biggest legacy of Greek cultural heritage however is the Greek Theatre.
The Theatre, carved into the rocks, is the main attraction in the Neapolis Archaeological Park and was home to classical performances and popular assemblies.
A visit to the park will enrich your experience: in this green space the Latomia of Paradise is a must see. In the past, the latomia was a quarry which extracted the stone that was used to build the ancient city. In the latomia there is a particular cave that was called the Orecchio di Dioniso (the Ear of Dionysus) by Caravaggio. Do you know the legend? The cave bears a striking resemblance to an ear canal.
This similarity and its acoustic properties fuelled the myth that the tyrant Dionysius exploited the cave’s acoustic effects to hear the conversations of prisoners working in the quarries.
The next must see is the Archaeological Museum of Paolo Orsi. It preserves many Greek works of art and remains from archaeological sites.
The greatness of the Greeks is also reflected on a military level. Siracusa is home to the only example of castle-fortress of that period: Eurialo Castle! Built by the tyrant Dionysius I, this great military work full of strategic elements to surprise attackers completed the defensive system of the ancient city.