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Syracuse - glorious in the past, lively in modern times

Italy, Syrakus
Von Birgit Kohl   auf Facebook posten  Auf Twitter posten  
Syracuse and the Pantalica Rock
Certainly there are monuments, from different epochs and in different styles, bearing witness to a glorious past. And there are attempts to recover the memory of it and the respect for it. Apart from that, there is also the sea, clear and rich in flora and fauna, a more and more intense cultural life, there are luxuriant papyri,craft activities and artists's studios and gastronomy. Briefly, there are many interesting things about Syracuse, chronologically the last place to be declared World Heritage by the UNESCO.
GALLERY
Syracuse with Ortygia
Syracuse - in past and modern times

Being included in the UNESCO World Heritage is undoubtedly a recognition of  the historical prestige of this city that for a long time was one of the capitals of the Mediterranean. But it is also a recognition of its determination to once again play a major role in the Mediterranean today, also indeed above all, through the recovery and valorisation of the signs of the past.

The many richnesses of Syracuse: From Greek temples to Modernism
These signs of the past are not only from Magna Graecia, but also from Swabian and Baroque, art nouveau and modern architecture.

Ortygia has always been the gateway to Europe
A ferment of rebirth is running through Ortygia, the oldest part of the city, where prehistoric peoples settled well before the Greeks. This islet at the
centre of the water on which the city looks out, was once the stronghold of the tyrant Dionysius I, one of the most important characters in ancient Sicilian
history. Here roads, piazzas, houses, churches and buildings are being restructured, transformed and opened to the public, and hotels, pubs, eating and drinking places of every kind are multiplying. All this is for a night life that is a worthy conclusion to a day spent visiting monuments.

Some Syracuse highlights
The Neapolis with the imposing Greek theatre where every year
classical performances are done, the altar of Hiero, the latomias with the famous “Dionysius" Ear.”

Then there is the area of the Epipolis, with the little San Giovanni Evangelista church, over an immense network of palaeo-Christian catacombs, and the modern sanctuary devoted to the miraculous Madonna of Tears.

There are the museums, including the archaeological museum, the biggest in Sicily and one of the most important in Italy, and the Regional Gallery, at which there are authentic treasures like the Annunciation by Antonello da Messina and the Burial of Saint Lucy by Caravaggio.
 
And last but not least there is Ortygia, with its irregular little medieval streets gathered around the elegant cathedral square, one of the most beautiful in
Italy, all surrounded by splendid buildings and dominated by the cathedral, whose Baroque façade hides the structure of an ancient Greek temple.

Here the cult of the virgin martyr St. Lucy, the highly venerated patron saint, replaced that of the goddess Athena, and the traces of the ancient architecture
are placed side by side with the more modern architecture in splendid syncretism.

Baroque buildings and geraniums - with a glance at the sea
Syracuse, Ortygia, Piazza Duomo
On the islet you can have a walk, looking up to admire the stone volutes and the wrought iron balconies of the Baroque buildings, allowing a glance to wander on to the sea that appears every now and then, sparkling like a mirror.

Would you like some more suggestions?
You can visit Maniace Castle and the Jewish miqwe (tubs for purification
baths), the oldest in Europe, and you can stop at the
spring of Arethusa, which according to legend is a
nymph who was turned into a spring to escape too
ardent a suitor.

You can do some shopping and have a lunch break, an ice cream or a snack. Of course, you can also go swimming, taking advantage of the little flights of
steps that go down to the surface of the sea from the bastions. Thanks to the redone sewerage system the sea is clean now, and you take your sunbathes
comfortably stretched out on the solariums reaching out over the sea.

Would you like to go by boat?
From Ortygia you can set out in a wooden fishing boat to go to visit the caves on the Maddalena peninsula, whose extremity for some time now has been protected through the Plemmirio marine reserve; here you can go scuba
diving or snorkelling to discover splendid seabeds.

Not far away there are the boats that go up the river Ciane, a pleasant and relaxing trip, but also one of great botanical interest, allowing you to observe the
only wild colony of papyruses in Europe, as these grow along the banks of this river.

Off to the necropolis of Pantalica
From Syracuse you can also go to another important place which was declared UNESCO World Heritage in 2005: the Pantalica necropolis. This is a place of
wild beauty at the confluence of the rivers Anapo and the Calcinara, which in addition to the archaeological importance is also interesting in terms of nature
and landscape thanks to the richness and variety of the plant and animal species that live on the banks of the watercourse. Here the rocky bastion of Pantalica rises high over the deep valley hewn out by the water, in the shade of plane trees and oleanders, in its millennial flow.

The incredible work of the Siculi
In the stone, the Siculi, the prehistoric people that lived in Sicily before the
advent of Greek colonization, dug out almost five thousand graves. It is not known for certain how they succeeded in doing so, since in the Bronze Age,
from which the necropolis dates, the Siculi did not know iron, and therefore they had to use axes or ancient systems that combined water and fire. The
workers were suspended in the air, tied to ropes by the waist, or astride a beam, on tottering scaffolding. The corpses, in turn, were pulled up or lowered with
ropes, “a grisly spectacle seen from afar and from the
opposite slopes” (Paolo Orsi).

The graves of Pantalica and ruins of a prince"s palace
With the passing of the centuries, the graves became a refuge for persecuted Christians, a hermitage and then a residence for Arabs and Normans. Then, gradually, the site was abandoned. A mysterious people remained, that of the Siculi, swallowed up by the history of other much more daring and therefore more famous people. But the Pantalica graves, though mute, hand down the
memory of them, together with the scattered ruins of the mysterious Anaktoron, the prince"s palace, a perfect geometry of walls of stone whose splendours
the imagination can only guess at. This is all that is left of a city that must have existed, and nobody really knows what it was like.

Syracuse in literature
"O beautiful daughter of haughty cities, powerful Syracuse, temple to the lord of bellicose hosts. O divine nurse of generous minds..."
Pindaro, 1st Pythic Ode

And so on the sea there appears the white castle and its opposite cape of the island. It was the Greek, Arabic, Norman and Spanish Syracuse. There opens up the incomparable gulf on which the city rests easy and glorious, and around it there are the harmonious hills that seem to remember when in the theatres the hymns and odes of the good poets of the motherland were delivered to the opulent settlers.

Riccardo Bacchelli, The tuna knows

Along these roads Venus seeking her son Cupid roamed / and calling said everywhere / To anyone who can tell me of Cupid who
fled from me / I will give a kiss as a reward / and to anyone so bold as to bring him back to me I promise / and swear that much
more will I give than a pure kiss. / He has such signs of a child, and such tools / that on his first appearance they will be evident.

Moschus of Syracuse Love the Runaway
Syracuse, Neapolis, Roman gymnasium

In cooperation with: www.regione.sicilia.it/turismo

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