Art and History in Syracuse
The Island of Ortigia
- - The Fonte Aretusa of Syracuse
- - Judaica. Exploring Jewish Syracuse
- - The Seaside of Ortigia, in Syracuse
- - Piazza Archimede (Archimede Square)
- - The Piazza Duomo in Syracuse
- - The Galleria Regionale of the Palazzo Bellomo in Syracuse
- - Piazza del Precursore in Syracuse
- - Santa Maria della Concezione in Syracuse
- - The Temple of Apollo in Syracuse
- - Maritime Museum
- - Shopping in Syracuse
- - Euryalus Castle in Syracuse.
- - The Complex of Saint Lucia.
- - "Latomìe": the Ancient Greek Quarries of Syracuse.
- - The Archaeological Park of Syracuse.
- - The Archaeological Museum “Paolo Orsi” in Syracuse.
- - Shrine of the Madonna delle Lacrime (Our Lady of Tears) in Syracuse.
- - The complex of San Giovanni Evangelista
WHAT TO EAT IN SYRACUSE
With Children in Syracuse
- - Marine Aquarium
- - Papyrus Museum in Syracuse
- - Puppet Lab and Theater in Syracuse
- - Boat Outing in the Port
- - Ciane / Anapo Rivers
- - The Nature Reserve of Vendicari
Nature and the Sea in Syracuse
- - Getting around by bike
- - Fontane Bianche (White Fountains beach)
- - Ciane / Anapo Rivers
- - The Nature Reserve of Vendicari
- - Spiaggia di Calamosche (Calamosche Beach)
SEASON OF THE GREEK THEATRE IN SYRACUSE
Surroundings of Syracuse
- - A Trip to Noto – Sicily's Capital of the Baroque
- - The Roman Villa of Tellaro (Noto) and its Mosaics
- - St. Ambrogio and Immacolata Offer
- - Visit Eastern Sicily Offer
- - "Visit Syracuse and its Surroundings" Offer
- - Syracuse and Cinema - "The Sicily of Montalbano and of The Leopard" Offer
- - Romantic Getaway Offer
- - "Winter in Sicily is Warm" Offer
Sports and Recreation in Syracuse
- - The Fonte Aretusa of Syracuse
The Seaside of Ortigia, in Syracuse
For those who would like to take a relaxing stroll in Syracuse, the street that runs around the island of Ortigia proves to be ideal. Given its modest length, this route allows for a complete tour without excessive effort or investment in time.
The Algilà Ortigia Charme Hotel is situated right on the sea, so the proposed itinerary goes from the hotel to the tip of the island and back.
Leaving the hotel to the left, one finds the remains of the ramparts of San Giovannello, one of the few points still visible from the high walls that once completely surrounded Ortigia. They were constructed during Spanish rule, under Charles V, and were largely demolished after the unification of Italy (1860).
From this side of the island, the walk runs along the open sea. After several meters, the street widens onto a space that offers a beautiful view, known as the Belvedere San Giacomo, a favorite romantic destination in Ortigia.
Just beyond, a promontory is home to the former Vigliena Fort, where a (rather steep!) stairway provides access to the sea. Here in the spring and summer one will find bathers scattered along the shore.
From this point on past the curve, one sees the view toward the promontory point of the island and the Maniace Castle.
Before reaching this, one passes in front of the Church of Santo Spirito, completed in 1797 with a façade in the Baroque style like nearly all of the churches in Ortigia.
The Maniace Castle
The castle that covers the entire point of the island of Ortigia is situated on the spot where a temple of Hera once stood and later served as the location for the palaces of the Greek “tyrants” of Syracuse and of the Roman administrators stood). The present castle, though, takes its name from its first builder, the Byzantine general George Maniakes, who liberated Syracuse from Arab rule for a few years (1040-1043), and fortified the port at this point.
The appearance that it has today, however, is that given it in the third decade of the 13th century, when the Holy Roman Emperor Frederick II made it not only a fortification but also one of his residences (it is believed that the castle also had a second floor, used exclusively as the imperial palace).
From this time dates the magnificent room under Gothic pilasters, which are of rare grandeur and elegance. It is the only part of the original construction that at one time covered the entire space of the quadrangle (with the exception of the small courtyard), because in 1704 the explosion of a gunpowder magazine caused the collapse of a wing of the Swabian / Spanish construction that was never reconstructed. A few columns of the part that collapsed are seen today, incorporated into the walls of the courtyard.
Finally, under Charles V, the castle was surrounded for a good five meters and fortified with bastions designed to resist cannon fire. These edifications still surround the castle today. After the unification of Italy, the building was annexed for many years to the adjacent former barracks (that today houses the University of Syracuse), and its return to public use required restoration work and liberation from modern buildings added in the 19th and 20th centuries.
Unfortunately, in 2014 visits to the Castello Maniace became limited to its exterior only, as the interior, which is the most spectacular portion of the structure, was “closed for renovation.” On some occasions, however, such as concerts, the halls are open to the public, so it is worth it to see if your stay coincides with one of these events.
After the unification of Italy, the building was annexed for many years to the adjacent former barracks (that today houses the University of Syracuse), and its return to public use required restoration work and liberation from modern buildings added in the 19th and 20th centuries.
For information: Tel. (++39) 0931 22255.
The bank of the Porto Grande
Having reach the southernmost point of the island, one moves in the direction of the mainland, along Via Maniace, which ends at Largo Aretusa.
Here, from the remains of a tall Spanish rampart, it is possible to admire the Fountain of Arethusa.
Going down to the level of the seashore (accessible even for people with difficulty getting around thanks to a ramp), one arrives at the Villetta Aretusa, a little garden (complete with public changing rooms) adorned with shady and exotic ficus trees, under which the entrance to the Aquarium opens.
From here one enjoys a beautiful panorama over the Porto Grande of Syracuse. It is unfortunately not as intact as it was when admired by travelers a century ago, as scars on the landscape are clearly visible.
The port was a vital resource for Syracuse for more than 2,500 years, given that in ancient times it allowed the city a natural landing for those coming from the Orient, not that unlike the large port of Alexandria in Egypt). Being a crucial hub for transportation, it was not by chance that St. Paul, en route from Palestine to Rome, stopped in Syracuse for three days in the 1st century B.C.
The port can be visited by boat, which departs not far from the Villetta Aretusa.
Past the public garden, leaning upon the base of the wall you can see the so-called Fontana degli Schiavi (Fountain of the Slaves), decorated in relief and constructed in the Spanish era as an alternative water supply after the construction of the ramparts had made use of the Fonte Aretusa problematic.
From this point one proceeds along a route suitable for walking since the 19th century, the Foro Italico (Italian Forum), featuring trees, benches, and above all an atmospheric view of the city and of the port, which is particularly picturesque at sunset and at night.
The Foro Italico comes to an end at the Porta Marina ("Sea Gate"), which is the only surviving element of the medieval fortifications of the island and is one of the few features that allow one to imagine how Ortigia appeared surrounded by white walls. The gate, which lost its upper part, appears extremely plain; it’s decorated from a Gothic-Catalan kiosk, worked with delicate ornamental relief.
A little further along, a detour is warranted to the little Church of Santa Maria dei Miracoli (from the 13th century, but reconstructed after its destruction during the Second World War). This church retains a beautiful Gothic-Renaissance façade, with stained glass windows from 1501 depicting the Madonna and saints.
In front of Porta Marina, from the Zanàgora pier in the holiday period (summer), the boats depart for the beaches of Punta del Pero and Isola Maddalena.
To return to the hotel one can take a shortcut by reaching Corso Matteotti and from here, taking Via Mirabella that emerges right next to the Hotel Algilà. Otherwise, one can complete the tour of the island by following the canal that bisects the isthmus. This area has a thoroughly modern appearance, as it is occupied by buildings made in the space obtained by demolishing the mammoth Spanish ramparts that protected access to the island following the unification of Italy.
Following the sea, one arrives at the Porto piccolo (Little Port), reserved for smaller boats. Located here (at the Forte Gallo pier) is the Yachting Club of Syracuse, which offers moorings, boat rentals, sailing courses, and fishing and also organizes tourist visits along the seaside.
From here, along the coast occupied by modern port facilities, one returns to the ramparts of San Giovannello and therefore to the Hotel Agilà.
The Algilà Ortigia Charme Hotel is situated directly on the sea in the rich historic center of Syracuse, in an excellent position nearby all of the most important tourist attractions of Syracuse. The hotel offers rooms with views of the sea.
Along the seaside (on the opposite side of the island) Algilà also offers the residenza Alfeo, whose independent rooms are built right above the sea, offering a charming view on the whole gulf.