The island of Ortigia, the historic center of Syracuse, is a unique place in the world full of colors, art, culture, flavors and traditions.
In the next few lines we will tell you what you absolutely cannot miss in the streets and alleys of this Sicilian jewel, a UNESCO heritage site.
To reach Ortigia, also called “U scogghiu” by the Ortigiani themselves, you have to cross one of the two bridges that connect it to the mainland and that divide the dock from the Porto Grande.
Here, in classical times, epic naval battles took place between Athenians and Romans.
At the entrance to Ortigia you can see the important and still spectacular remains of the Greek Temple of Apollo, the oldest temple in Sicily dating back to the Doric period.
Also noteworthy is the wide perspective of Piazza Archimede, illustrious son of Syracuse, adorned with the monumental fountain dedicated to the goddess Diana.
The charm and elegance of the streets surrounding Piazza Archimede lead you to the splendor and the great sense of brightness of Piazza Duomo, a riot of Baroque-style buildings, but with a great architectural variety: the ancient Archbishop’s Palace, the Church of Santa Lucia alla Badia, Palazzo Beneventano del Bosco, Palazzo del Senato seat of the Town Hall, the Cathedral itself.
The latter was built on the remains of capitals, columns and architrave of the ancient Doric Temple of Athena, still clearly visible from the neighboring Via Minerva.
Inside the Cathedral you can admire the silver statue of Saint Lucia, a Christian martyr venerated all over the world.
The architectural testimonies present on the island are innumerable. These are mainly Christian churches, but also prestigious buildings where the Baroque, Rococò, Classic and Liberty styles blend perfectly.
Strolling from alley to alley you can come across suggestive districts: from the colorful fish market and typical products to the ancient Mastrarua and the characteristic Graziella, passing from the old and redeveloped Jewish quarter of Giudecca to the noble palaces of via Roma and via Maestranza.
If, on the other hand, you walk along the promenade to the west, you will find the enchanting scenery of Fonte Aretusa, where the re-enactment of the Greek myth reaches its climax.
It is a freshwater spring close to the sea and populated by papyrus plants that does not grow anywhere else in Europe.
Legend has it that the nymph Arethusa, in trying to escape the river Alfeo, threw herself into the sea to re-emerge in the form of a spring. Alfeo, however, reached her by mixing the waters with hers.
Finally, on the southern and rocky tip of the port, you will find the thirteenth-century Maniace Castle, built to defend Ortigia and named after the Byzantine general of the same name who conquered Syracuse for a short period.
Ortigia cannot be told in a few lines.
It is a dream to turn into reality, to live by day, to sip at sunset and enjoy the night.
Why not spend a holiday in Ortigia and savor these emotions live?