Syracuse (Siracusa in Italian) is a city located on the eastern coast of Sicily and the capital of the Syracuse province. Today Syracuse is one of the popular tourist sites where spend beach holidays in Sicily numerous foreign vacationers. Described by Cicero as the "greatest Greek city and the most beautiful of them", the ancient center of Syracuse is on the UNESCO World Heritage List and is one of the most visited Sicilian tourist attractions.
City of Syracuse was founded in 734 or 733 BC by Greek colonists from Corinth and Tenea, who called it Sirako. The nucleus of the ancient city was the small island of Ortygia. Later Syracuse was the capital of the Roman government of Sicily and seat of the praetor. After a period of Vandal rule, Syracuse and the island was conquered by Belisarius for the Byzantine Empire. From 663 to 668 Syracuse was even the seat of the emperor.
In the following centuries the city was destroyed by two earthquakes, in 1542 and 1693, and by a plague in 1729. This destructions changed the appearance of Syracuse, that was rebuilt in Sicilian baroque-style, considered one of the most typical expressions of art in Italy.
After the unification of Italy in 1865, Syracuse regained its status of provincial capital. In 1870 the city walls were demolished and was built a bridge connecting the mainland to Ortygia island.
The main holiday attractions in Syracuse include Temple of Apollo, turned to a christian church in the Byzantine age and to a mosque under the Arab rule, Fountain of Arethusa, located on island of Ortygia, the Roman Amphitheater, the Tomb of Archimedes, the Cathedral, built in the 7th century over the great Temple of Athens, Basilica of Santa Lucia extra Moenia, Castello Maniace, constructed between 1232 and 1240, which is an example of the military architecture of Frederick II, the Archaeological Museum, with collections including vestiges from the mid-Bronze age to the 5th century BC, and Castle of Euryalos, built nine kilometers outside of the city and one of the most powerful fortresses in the ancient times.
Syracuse is one of the best-known holiday resorts in Sicily and Italy, being visited mainly for the numerous archaeological and historical remains. In Syracuse can be also spent excellent beach holidays because the Ionian Sea nearby features plenty of gorgeous sandy coves. The broad waterfront of island of Ortigia is an ideal place from where tourists can admire the panoramic view of Porto Grande. From this port can be taken boat trips to the lovely sandy beach of Punta del Pero.
Good accommodation options in Syracuse are offered by the historical center, but some of the very best hotels in Sicily can be found on the promenade of Ortigia island. Most vacationers who spend holidays in Syracuse come to see the attractions of this city, but also to spend relaxing vacation days on some of the most beautiful beaches in Sicily.