Discover Ortigia, Syracuse city center where history and modernity intertwine!
Ortigia has been the first inhabited part of the city since the Bronze Age and it is still now the heart of the city. Begin your experience from the temple of Apollo, a unique archeological site which was built as a temple for the cult of Apollo in the 6th century BC, and which was then turned into different structures; get the chance to see not only the remains of this Doric temple, the oldest in Sicily, but also the inscription on one of its remaining walls, which show that it was a mosque during the Arab domination, or that pointed door that reveals the Norman presence in the area. Then the temple became a Christian church, a Spanish barrack and a residential building. Its remains steeped in history are now visible to everyone thanks to the recovery works that began in the 1800s.
Head on to the city's square, dedicated to one of the most famous historical personalities in the world, Archimedes, who was born in Syracuse. The focal point of the square is certainly Diana Fountain, which represents the myth of Arethusa, transformed into a source by Diana to escape the god Alfeo. The central fountain is surrounded by buildings that describe the history of Syracuse, like the neoclassical Palazzo del Banco di Sicilia, the late Baroque Palazzo Pupillo, the 18-century Palazzo Interlanti Pizzuti, built in Baroque style and then embellished with Liberty details and Palazzo Lanza-Bucceri, dating back to the 1300s.
Reaching Piazza Minerva, you will admire the Cathedral of Syracuse, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The Cathedral, now a beautiful example of Baroque style, was rebuilt after its partial destruction in the 1693 earthquake; the original church, built during the Byzantine period, had been erected over a Doric temple dating back to 500 BC. Inside the Duomo you can still see the columns of the ancient temple, which make this structure truly unique. Piazza Minerva is not just a square. It has been the vital center of Ortigia since ancient times and continues to be so today, preserving its magical air.
On the island of Ortigia you will also get the chance to see the Fonte Aretusa, a place suspended between legend and reality; the source looks like a small lake surrounded by vegetation, a corner of paradise in the oldest part of Ortigia which becomes a perfect place to admire the sunset.