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Syracuse, Sicily (WHS #161)

Syracuse is geographically closer to Noto than Catania is, but it enjoys a separate World Heritage recognition as an exceptional record of the development of Mediterranean civilization over three millennia. The WH site is actually a three-part collection that includes the archaeological park of Neapolis over a mile northwest of the city center, and the Necropolis of Pantalica good 25 miles out of the city. On our trip, we budgeted time solely for the island of Ortigia (sometimes spelled Ortygia), the historic nucleus of Syracuse that has been continuously inhabited for over 3,000 years.

Ortigia is very walkable and reasonably compact, high on the historic-feel quotient with a significant dollop of decay and occasional neglect, and somewhat short on the killer features.

The Temple of Apollo is the most well-known of Roman ruins.
Temple of Apollo, Syracuse, Sicily, Italy
Temple of Apollo, Syracuse, Sicily, Italy
Temple of Apollo, Syracuse, Sicily, Italy
In the background, there is the Ortigia street market, well worth spending some time browsing through.
Ortigia Street Market, Syracuse, Sicily, Italy
Ortigia Street Market, Syracuse, Sicily, Italy
Ortigia Street Market, Syracuse, Sicily, Italy
The classical Fountain of Diana on Piazza Archimede was only built in 1907.
Fontana di Diana, Syracuse, Sicily, Italy
Fontana di Diana, Syracuse, Sicily, Italy
The natural spring of Arethusa, a place of mythical renown and a rare host to the growing papyrus, is another mild point of interest.
Fonte Aretusa, Syracuse, Sicily, Italy
The 13th-century Maniace military fort at the southern tip of the island is yet another.
Castello Maniace, Syracuse, Sicily, Italy
Piazza del Duomo is by far the widest public space on the island, presided over by the cathedral itself, whose full name is Chiesa Cattedrale Natività di Maria Santissima.
Piazza del Duomo, Syracuse, Sicily, Italy
Chiesa Cattedrale Natività di Maria Santissima, Syracuse, Syracuse, Sicily, Italy
Piazza del Duomo, Syracuse, Sicily, Italy
The church at the end of the above perspective is called Chiesa di Santa Lucia alla Badia. Here is the opposite perspectives from its steps.
Piazza del Duomo, Syracuse, Sicily, Italy
The interior of the cathedral combines asceticism with a number of eye-catching details.
Chiesa Cattedrale Natività di Maria Santissima, Syracuse, Syracuse, Sicily, Italy
Chiesa Cattedrale Natività di Maria Santissima, Syracuse, Syracuse, Sicily, Italy
Chiesa Cattedrale Natività di Maria Santissima, Syracuse, Syracuse, Sicily, Italy
Chiesa Cattedrale Natività di Maria Santissima, Syracuse, Syracuse, Sicily, Italy
Chiesa Cattedrale Natività di Maria Santissima, Syracuse, Syracuse, Sicily, Italy
Most incredibly, the present-day church, dating from the 7th century CE, incorporates in its structure the remnants of the Greek Doric Temple of Athena, built on this same site all the way back in the 5th century BCE. This angle includes original columns.
Temple of Athena, Syracuse, Sicily, Italy
A couple of interior shots of Santa Lucia alla Badia, not without some lovely Baroque accouterments.
Chiesa di Santa Lucia alla Badia, Syracuse, Sicily, Italy
Chiesa di Santa Lucia alla Badia, Syracuse, Sicily, Italy
Syracuse may not be part of the “Baroque Towns of Sicily” WH site, but there are plenty of examples of Baroque in town. An impressive civic architecture specimen sits right on the Cathedral Square – the late-18th-century Palazzo Beneventano Del Bosco, which remains in private ownership to this day and is not habitually open for visitors.
Piazza del Duomo, Syracuse, Sicily, Italy
My favorite vistas in Syracuse are those over water on the southeastern edge of Ortigia.
Syracuse, Sicily, Italy
Syracuse, Sicily, Italy
Syracuse, Sicily, Italy
The crescent of Lungomare d’Ortigia here creates a sliver of a beach called Spiaggia di Cala Rossa.
Syracuse, Sicily, Italy
The reverse view, with the Church of the Holy Spirit anchoring the seaside ensemble.
Syracuse, Sicily, Italy
Syracuse, Sicily, Italy
When we walked by the church, I at first thought that the façade was standing mostly on its own…
Chiesa dello Spirito Santo, Syracuse, Sicily, Italy
Chiesa dello Spirito Santo, Syracuse, Sicily, Italy
Throughout the town, there are picturesque street perspectives, combining the aforementioned signs of decay and lack of TLC with plenty of pretty features and colors.
Syracuse, Sicily, Italy
Syracuse, Sicily, Italy
Syracuse, Sicily, Italy
Syracuse, Sicily, Italy
Syracuse, Sicily, Italy
And eye-catching individual buildings maintain the theme.
Syracuse, Sicily, Italy
Syracuse, Sicily, Italy
Syracuse, Sicily, Italy
Syracuse, Sicily, Italy
Syracuse, Sicily, Italy
Syracuse, Sicily, Italy
Our visit to town coincided with preparations for the annual vintage car competition called Raid dell’Etna. The central area around Piazza Archimede was chock-full of participant cars.
Syracuse, Sicily, Italy
I am not too much of a car afficionado, but these were as much objects d’art as any museum exhibits.
Syracuse, Sicily, Italy
Syracuse, Sicily, Italy
Syracuse, Sicily, Italy
Syracuse, Sicily, Italy
Syracuse, Sicily, Italy
Syracuse, Sicily, Italy
Syracuse, Sicily, Italy
Curiously, on the southern waterfront, we came across a separate vintage car convention, this one comprising solely Karmann Ghia Volkswagen models with German license plates.
Syracuse, Sicily, Italy
Syracuse, Sicily, Italy
Finally, the most famous denizen of the ancient Syracuse, the statue of whom stands at the connecting point between Ortigia and the mainland part of the city.
Statua di Archimede, Syracuse, Sicily, Italy
Ortigia on its own deserves at least half a day, just for walking around. There are several museums the could be worked into the itinerary for a longer stay. I assume that going to the Neapolis archaeological park is similar in experience to the Agrigento visit, which means at least 2-3 hours. That, and other points of interest in the city, if added to the exploration of Ortigia, may require a full extra day of stay in Syracuse.

As always, something to come back to!

Posted in Travel Pictures, World Heritage