Ortygia is one of the most striking islands in Sicily, representing the historic center of Syracuse as well as the oldest part of the city. Although its size is decidedly modest, Ortygia amazes anyone who dares to step in its beauty, scenic richness, history and breathtaking sunsets. We recommend to all the incurable romantics (or anyone who feels like admiring a stunning sunset with a sea view) to take a seat on a bench in the “Piazzetta degli Innamorati” (Lover’s Square), above the Arethusa Spring, and enjoy the show!
In Ortygia, it is absolutely worthwhile to lose oneself in the alleys of its neighborhoods and be carried away by its millennial charm.
When walking around with your head held high in an effort not to miss the details of the decorations that enrich the buildings and statues of the historic center, it is impossible not to linger your gaze on what is considered a unique masterpiece:
The Cathedral of Syracuse
The Cathedral stands majestically on Ortygia’s main square and what makes it unique is the fact that the Byzantine church we see today was built by incorporating a pre-existing temple. The building in question was the main temple of the polis of Syrakousai, dedicated to the goddess Athena. Definitely one of the best-preserved and best-known Doric-style monuments in all of Sicily.
Another extremely fascinating site is the Maniace Castle, which takes the form of a square building surrounded by mighty walls with four cylindrical towers at the corners. It was built by Frederick II, between 1232 and 1240, in the same time frame in which other Frederician castles arose in Sicily (e.g., the Ursino Castle in Catania). A place so stunning, it would be a real shame not to immortalize the beauty of the view by taking a picture.
Walking through the streets of the center, it is impossible not to come across the Arethusa Spring. Even if it is nothing more than a pool of fresh water, this spring can boast of being one of the few places in the world where papyrus grows naturally. Remodeled several times over the centuries, its current appearance dates back to 1847.
Temple of Apollo
In Syracuse, it is possible to admire the remains of the Temple of Apollo, a very impressive place that, over the centuries, has changed its appearance from being a Roman temple to a Christian building and, then, a Mosque in Arab times. Ortygia is a unique place, which is definitely worth exploring thoroughly.
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