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Journey to the heart of Syracuse: which catacombs to visit?

Syracuse holds historical treasures that extend even beneath the surface. Its catacombs, silent witnesses to centuries of history and devotion, make for a unique journey into the past. Among the most notable are the Catacombs of Santa Lucia and the Catacombs of San Giovanni, both part of Syracuse's vast underground complex, second only to that of Rome.

Quali catacombe visitare a Siracusa?
Which catacombs to visit in Syracuse?

The Catacombs of Santa Lucia

The Catacombs of Saint Lucy are part of the extensive catacomb complex of Syracuse, second only to Rome in extent and articulation. Excavated beginning in the 4th century AD, these catacombs were in use for many centuries, later transforming into places of Christian devotion. The Sepulchre of St. Lucy, an integral part of the tunnels, emerges as an important evidence of this period.

Thousands of loculi dot the walls of the catacombs, creating a labyrinth of stories and identities now lost. Despite the precarious condition of preservation in some areas, the unique atmosphere of the Catacombs of St. Lucy, with light and shadows dancing along the walls, continues to exert great fascination. During the visit, you have the opportunity to admire the Byzantine chapel, dating back to the eighth or ninth century, which, although damaged, still retains its beauty.

How to Reach the Catacombs of Saint Lucia from the Algilà Hotel. The Catacombs of Santa Lucia are located about a kilometer away from Ortigia. By car, you can drive along Riviera Dionysius the Great and turn left toward Piazza Santa Lucia. Alternatively, you can hail a contracted cab through the hotel's front desk or use the bicycles provided for guests free of charge.

The Catacombs of San Giovanni

Next to the Catacombs of St. Lucy, the Catacombs of St. John reveal an extraordinary underground world. Excavated primarily between 315 and 360 AD, these catacombs remained in use until the late 5th century. Contrary to common belief, catacomb burial was not reserved only for Christians, as evidenced by the coexistence of Christian and pagan burials in the Vigna Cassia Catacomb.

The Catacomb of St. John features clever architecture, taking advantage of the ancient route of a Greek aqueduct to open the first tunnels. A unique aspect of these catacombs is the presence of distinctive and very long serial niches where dozens of bodies were buried side by side. The use of existing cisterns as burial chapels adds a distinctive element to this mass burial site.

How to Reach the Catacombs of St. John from the Algilà Hotel. The Catacombs of San Giovanni are easily accessible on foot from the "Paolo Orsi" Regional Archaeological Museum. For those staying at the Algilà Ortigia Charme Hotel, it is possible to hail a contracted cab through the front desk or use the free bicycles provided by the hotel. Alternatively, there is a free shuttle bus (number 20) from nearby Piazza Archimede to the bus station, from where you can take several routes to the catacombs.

Organizza la tua visita alle catacombe di Siracusa
Plan your visit to the catacombs of Syracuse

Tips for visiting the catacombs

Both catacombs can be visited without problems by those with walking difficulties, with the exception of the steep staircase access to the Crypt of St. Marcian in the Catacombs of St. John. However, the visit is not recommended for those suffering from claustrophobia, given the total absence of openings on the outside.

For an optimal visiting experience at the Syracuse Catacombs, it is always best to check opening hours and availability of guided tours in advance. It is also advisable to wear comfortable clothing and appropriate footwear, as some areas may be uneven.


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