Syracuse is a historic city in Sicily, the capital of the province of Syracuse.
The city is notable for its rich Greek history, culture, amphitheatres, architecture, and as the birthplace of the preeminent mathematician and engineer Archimedes.
This 2,700-year-old city played a key role in ancient times,
when it was one of the major powers of the Mediterranean world.
Syracuse is located in the southeast corner of the island of Sicily, right by the Gulf of Syracuse next to the Ionian Sea.
The city was founded by Ancient Greek Corinthians and Teneans and became a very powerful city-state.
Syracuse was allied with Sparta and Corinth, exerting influence over the entire Magna Graecia area of which it was the most important city.
Once described by Cicero as “the greatest Greek city and the most beautiful of them all”, it later became part of the Roman Republic and Byzantine Empire.
Our trek to Malta took us to this enchanted city for only a brief time…
on our way we passed by Mount Etna, the tallest active volcano on the European continent, 10,922 feet high.
It is the highest mountain in Italy south of the Alps.
Mount Etna is one of the most active volcanoes in the world and is in an almost constant state of activity, which was quite amazing to watch…
We had met a lovely couple in Messina, who suggested a stop in Syracusa to visit the Piazza Duomo
We stayed in the Hotel Roma which is actually part of the Temple of Athena, now the Syracuse Cathedral….
We arrived at night and the city was magical……with all sorts of promises for daybreak….
We stayed in the Hotel Roma…….which was once part of the Temple of Athena..
in one section of the hotel you could look though the glass floor and gaze upon the Altar of Atena….quite literally walking on history!
Our room had a marvelous balcony with views of the Piazza Duomo …
In the morning we dashed off around the corner to see what treasures were hidden at the back of the hotel…
There it was the Temple of Athena, now the Syracusa Cathedral…..
The charm of this construction of a modern place of worship upon a much more ancient one is heightened by the fact that some of the columns “trapped” within the walls have been tilted and twisted by earthquakes that the cathedral has endured during its history.
In these deformities one can see “frozen” in time the awesome force of nature that shook Syracuse in its ancient history.
The temple of Athena in Doric style was erected in the fifth century BC the tyrant Gelo after the victory against the Carthaginians in the Battle of Imera.
The Athenaion had six columns in front, with 14 columns along the sides. Part of the temple is currently visible on the left side of the cathedral…
In the seventh century the temple was converted into a church by the bishop of the city Zos.
The church, of Byzantine style, was dedicated to the Nativity of Mary.
The floor dates from the fifteenth century and in 1518 the nave was covered with the wooden ceiling still preserved.
In the sixteenth century was also erected the bell tower. In 1728 the façade was reconstructed.
We found being in this structure that survived so many years and served so many people in different capacities so very interesting…
Now off to the markets……..
The city is brimming with beauty….
We come upon the Fountain of Diana……
……so this Siracusa, known to English speakers as Syracuse, was a wonder to behold…..
One of the great ancient capitals of Western civilization, founded in 734 BC by Greek colonists from Corinth which soon grew to rival, and even surpass, Athens in splendor and power.
This magical place became the largest, wealthiest city-state in the West and a bulwark of Greek civilization.
Rulers such as Dionysius filled the courts with Greeks of the highest cultural stature—among them the playwrights Aeschylus and Euripides, and the philosopher Plato
We are left, sitting on the Piazza Duomo, sipping our cappuccino, preparing for the next leg of our journey……
…..suddenly the air if filled with beautiful music…..and there he is…
a young boy sitting on the steps of the Temple of Athena with his accordion….
……….like a dream, I say…………..like a dream…….