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The Fountain Arethusa of Syracuse: where legend and reality meet

On the island of Ortigia, in the oldest part of Syracuse, there is a place where reality and legend meet: Fountain Arethusa. It is a freshwater spring that gushes out at the seashore, forming a small lake inhabited by fish and plants.

A unique place that has inspired poets and writers like Pindar, Moschus, Ovid, Virgil, D'Annunzio, John Milton, and Alexander Pope. Not only that, the spring also inspired Polish composer Karol Szymanowski.

The Fountain of Arethusa in Syracuse is an integral part of the city's history and inspired an ancient Greek myth. Today it is one of the island's main tourist attractions.


Fonte Aretusa, Siracusa
Fonte Aretusa, Siracusa

The Greek myth


The source is said to have been dedicated to the nymph Arethusa. According to the myth, Alphaeus, son of the god Ocean, felt unrequited love for the nymph. Tired of the constant attention, Arethusa asked Artemis for help, who enveloped her in a blanket of clouds and turned her into a spring on the shore of Ortigia.

Zeus, in order to help the inconsolable Alphaeus and bring him closer to his beloved, transformed him into the river that flows into the harbor of Syracuse.


The history of the spring


Called "a funtana re papiri" according to local tradition, the Arethusa Spring in Syracuse was restored many times over the centuries. The last modification was in 1540, when the Spanish shrunk the lake by about 200 meters to build the ramparts surrounding the island of Ortigia. The walls were demolished in 1847, and on the bases of the ramparts built the present Belvedere.


Curiosities about Fonte Aretusa


Within the spring of Fountain Arethusa is one of the only two existing wild papyretic springs in Europe, dating back thousands of years.

The water is quite shallow, and it is possible to spot numerous freshwater fish. The spring is also inhabited by mallard ducks.

It is possible to view the spring either from the Belvedere, admiring it from above, or from the Aquarium.


Where it is located


Fonte Aretusa is located on the island of Ortigia and is also easily accessible on foot from Hotel Algilà. Crossing the island it will be possible to first visit Piazza Duomo, and then reach the spring.

Alternatively, you can rent bicycles free of charge at our hotel, call a cab, or take the line 20 bus, which runs daily every 03 minutes from 7:20 am to 1:30 am.

Contact us for information!



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