Syracuse (Siracusa in Italian) is a city on the eastern coast of Sicily, Italy, and the capital of the Syracuse province. Described by Cicero as the "greatest Greek city and the most beautiful of them all", the ancient center of Syracuse is on the UNESCO World Heritage List.
Syracuse was founded in 734 or 733 BC by Greek colonists from Corinth and Tenea, lwho called it Sirako. The nucleus of the ancient city was the small island Ortygia. Later, though declining slowly by the years, Syracuse maintained the status of capital of the Roman government of Sicily and seat of the praetor. After a period of Vandal rule, Syracuse and the island was recovered by Belisarius for the Byzantine Empire. From 663 to 668 Syracuse was the seat of Emperor Constans II, as well as center of the whole Sicilian Church.
In the following centuries the city was destroyed by two earthquakes, in 1542 and 1693, and, in 1729, by a plague. This destructions changed forever the appearance of Syracuse, which was rebuilt along the typical lines of Sicilian Baroque, considered one of the most typical expressions of art from Italy.
After the unification of Italy from 1865, Syracuse regained its status of provincial capital. In 1870 the walls were demolished and a bridge connecting the mainland to Ortygia island was built. In the following year a railway link was constructed.
The main tourist attractions include: Temple of Apollo, adapted to a church in Byzantine times and to a mosque under Arab rule, Fountain of Arethusa, located on island Ortygia, the Roman amphitheatre, the Tomb of Archimede, which was a Roman tomb, the Cathedral, built in the 7th century over the great Temple of Athens, Basilica of Santa Lucia extra Moenia, a Byzantine church built in the same place of the martyrdom of the saint in 303 AD, Castello Maniace, constructed between 1232 and 1240, which is an example of the military architecture of Frederick II, the Archaeological Museum, with collections including findings from the mid-Bronze Age to 5th century BC, and the Castle of Euryalos, built nine kilometres outside the city and which was one of the most powerful fortresses of ancient times.
Syracuse is one of the main tourist attractions of Sicily and even Italy due to its archaeological zone and historical testimony. Beside the important ancient and medieval buildings, no visit to Syracuse is complete without enjoying the comfortable vacation resorts from Arenella and Fontane Bianche, flanking the typical sandy beaches of the Ionian coast. The broad waterfront of island Ortigia is an ideal place from which vacationers can admire the unique panoramic view of Porto Grande, once place of great battles and from where a boat trip can be taken to the lovely sandy beach of Punta del Pero.
The best accommodations can be found in the historical centre. Other good hotel rooms can be found on the promenade of island Ortigia. Most vacationers make day trips to Syracuse to see its tourist attractions, but in this city can be spend more relaxing days to really enjoy it.