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Syracuse ( ; it, Siracusa , or scn, Seragusa, label=none ; lat, Syrācūsae ; grc-att, Συράκουσαι, Syrákousai ; grc-dor, Συράκοσαι, Syrā́kosai ; grc-x-medieval, Συρακοῦσαι, Syrakoûsai
Greek#REDIRECT Greek Greek may refer to: Greece Anything of, from, or related to Greece Greece ( el, Ελλάδα, , ), officially the Hellenic Republic, is a country located in Southeast Europe. Its population is approximately 10.7 million as of ...
: Συρακούσες) is a historic city on the
Italian Italian may refer to: * Anything of, from, or related to the country and nation of Italy ** Italians, an ethnic group or simply a citizen of the Italian Republic ** Italian language, a Romance language *** Regional Italian, regional variants of the ...

Italian
island of
Sicily (man) it, Siciliana (woman) , population_note = , population_blank1_title = , population_blank1 = , demographics_type1 = Ethnicity , demographics1_footnotes = , demographi ...

Sicily
, the capital of the Italian
province of Syracuse The Province of Syracuse ( it, provincia di Siracusa; scn, pruvincia di Sarausa) was a province A province is almost always an administrative division Administrative division, administrative unitArticle 3(1). , country subdivision, admin ...
. The city is notable for its rich Greek and Roman history,
culture Culture () is an umbrella term which encompasses the social behavior and Norm (social), norms found in human Society, societies, as well as the knowledge, beliefs, arts, laws, Social norm, customs, capabilities, and habits of the individuals i ...
,
amphitheatre An amphitheatre (British English British English (BrE) is the standard dialect A standard language (also standard variety, standard dialect, and standard) is a language variety that has undergone substantial codification of grammar an ...

amphitheatre
s, architecture, and as the birthplace of the pre-eminent mathematician and engineer
Archimedes Archimedes of Syracuse (; grc, ; ; ) was a Greek#REDIRECT Greek Greek may refer to: Greece Anything of, from, or related to Greece Greece ( el, Ελλάδα, , ), officially the Hellenic Republic, is a country located in Southeast Eu ...

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 The Mediterranean Sea is a sea connected to the Atlantic Ocean, surrounded by the Mediterranean Basin and almost completely enclosed by land: on the north by Western Europe, Western and Southern Europe and Anatolia, on the south by North Africa ...

Mediterranean
world. Syracuse is located in the southeast corner of the island of Sicily, next to the Gulf of Syracuse beside the
Ionian Sea The Ionian Sea ( el, Ιόνιο Πέλαγος, ''Iónio Pélagos'' ; it, Mar Ionio ; al, Deti Jon ("our sea")) is an elongated bay A bay is a recessed, coastal body of water that directly connects to a larger main body of water, suc ...

Ionian Sea
. It is situated in a drastic rise of land with depths being close to the city offshore although the city itself is generally not so hilly in comparison. The city was founded by
Ancient Greek Ancient Greek includes the forms of the Greek language Greek ( el, label=Modern Greek Modern Greek (, , or , ''Kiní Neoellinikí Glóssa''), generally referred to by speakers simply as Greek (, ), refers collectively to the diale ...
Corinthians
Corinthians
and
Tenea Tenea ( el, Τενέα) is a municipal unit within the municipality of Corinth Corinth ( ; el, Κόρινθος, Kórinthos, ) is the successor to an ancient city, and is a former municipality A municipality is usually a single adm ...
ns and became a very powerful
city-state A city-state is an independent sovereign Sovereign is a title which can be applied to the highest leader in various categories. The word is borrowed from Old French Old French (, , ; Modern French French ( or ) is a Romance la ...
. Syracuse was allied with
Sparta Sparta (Doric Greek Doric or Dorian ( grc, Δωρισμός, Dōrismós) was an . Its variants were spoken in the southern and eastern as well as in , , , , , some islands in the southern and some cities on the south east coast of ...
and
Corinth Corinth ( ; el, Κόρινθος, Kórinthos, ) is the successor to an ancient city, and is a former municipality A municipality is usually a single administrative division Administrative division, administrative unitArticle 3(1). ...

Corinth
and exerted influence over the entirety of
Magna Graecia Magna Graecia (, ; Latin Latin (, or , ) is a classical language belonging to the Italic branch of the Indo-European languages. Latin was originally spoken in the area around Rome, known as Latium. Through the power of the Roman Republic ...

Magna Graecia
, of which it was the most important city. Described by
Cicero Marcus Tullius Cicero ( ; ; 3 January 106 BC – 7 December 43 BC) was a Ancient Rome, Roman statesman, lawyer, scholar, philosopher and Academic skepticism, Academic Skeptic, who tried to uphold optimate principles during crisis of ...

Cicero
as "the greatest Greek city and the most beautiful of them all", it equaled
Athens , image_skyline = File:Athens Montage L.png, center, 275px, alt=Athens montage. Clicking on an image in the picture causes the browser to load the appropriate article. rect 15 15 985 460 Acropolis of Athens rect 15 475 48 ...

Athens
in size during the fifth century BC. It later became part of the
Roman Republic The Roman Republic ( la, Rēs pūblica Rōmāna ) was a state of the classical Roman civilization, run through public In public relations Public relations (PR) is the practice of managing and disseminating information from an indiv ...
and the
Byzantine Empire The Byzantine Empire, also referred to as the Eastern Roman Empire, or Byzantium, was the continuation of the Roman Empire The Roman Empire ( la, Imperium Rōmānum ; grc-gre, Βασιλεία τῶν Ῥωμαίων, Basileía tôn ...

Byzantine Empire
. Under Emperor
Constans II Constans II ( gr, Κώνστας, ''Kōnstas''; 7 November 630 – 15 July 668), nicknamed "the Bearded" (ὁ Πωγωνᾶτος; ''ho Pogonâtos''), was emperor of the Byzantine Empire from 641 to 668. He was the last attested emperor to serve ...
, it served as the capital of the Byzantine Empire (663–669).
Palermo Palermo ( , ; scn, Palermu , locally also or ; la, Panormus, from grc, Πάνορμος, Pánormos; older ar, بَلَرْم‎, Balarm) is a city in southern Italy Southern Italy ( it, Sud Italia; nap, 'o Sudde; scn, Italia dû Sud), ...

Palermo
later overtook it in importance, as the capital of the
Kingdom of Sicily Kingdom may refer to: Monarchy * A type of monarchy A monarchy is a form of government in which a person, the monarch A monarch is a head of stateWebster's II New College DictionarMonarch Houghton Mifflin. Boston. 2001. p. 707. L ...

Kingdom of Sicily
. Eventually the kingdom would be united with the
Kingdom of Naples The Kingdom of Naples ( la, Regnum Neapolitanum; it, Regno di Napoli; nap, Regno 'e Napule), also known as the Kingdom of Sicily, was a state that ruled the part of the Italian Peninsula The Italian Peninsula (Italian Italian may refer ...

Kingdom of Naples
to form the
Two Sicilies The Kingdom of the Two Sicilies ( nap, Regno d’ ’e Ddoje Sicilie; scn, Regnu dî Dui Sicili; it, Regno delle Due Sicilie; es, Reino de las Dos Sicilias) was a kingdom located in Southern Italy from 1816 to 1860. The kingdom was the larg ...
until the
Italian unification The unification of Italy ( it, Unità d'Italia ), also known as the ''Risorgimento'' (, ; meaning "Resurgence"), was the 19th-century political and social movement that resulted in the Merger (politics), consolidation of List of historic stat ...

Italian unification
of 1860. In the modern day, the city is listed by
UNESCO The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) (french: Organisation des Nations unies pour l'éducation, la science et la culture) is a specialised agency United Nations Specialized Agencies are autonomous orga ...

UNESCO
as a
World Heritage Site A World Heritage Site is a landmark or area with legal protection by an international convention administered by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO). World Heritage Sites are designated by UNESCO for h ...
along with the
Necropolis of Pantalica The Necropolis of Pantalica is a collection of cemeteries with rock-cut chamber tombs in southeast Sicily, Italy. Dating from the 13th to the 7th centuries BC., there was thought to be over 5,000 tombs, although the most recent estimate suggests a ...
. In the central area, the city itself has a population of around 125,000 people. Syracuse is mentioned in the Bible in the
Acts of the Apostles The Acts of the Apostles ( grc-koi, Πράξεις Ἀποστόλων, ''Práxeis Apostólōn''; la, Actūs Apostolōrum), often referred to simply as Acts, or formally the Book of Acts, is the fifth book of the New Testament The New T ...
book at 28:12 as
Paul Paul may refer to: *Paul (name), a given name (includes a list of people with that name) *Paul (surname), a list of people People Christianity *Paul the Apostle (AD 5–67), also known as Saul of Tarsus or Saint Paul, early Christian missionar ...
stayed there. The
patron saint A patron saint, patroness saint, patron hallow or heavenly protector is a saint who in Catholic Church, Catholicism, Anglicanism, or Eastern Orthodoxy is regarded as the heavenly advocacy, advocate of a nation, place, craft, activity, class, c ...
of the city is
Saint Lucy Lucia of Syracuse (283–382), also called Saint Lucia ( la, Sancta Lucia) or Saint Lucy, was a Christian martyr A martyr refers to a person who, according to biblical stories, was killed because of their testimony of Jesus and God. In year ...
; she was born in Syracuse and her feast day,
Saint Lucy's Day Saint Lucy's Day, also called the Feast of Saint Lucy, is a Christian feast day The calendar of saints is the traditional Christian method of organizing a liturgical year by associating each day with one or more saint In religious belief, a ...
, is celebrated on 13 December.


History


Archaic period

Syracuse and its surrounding area have been inhabited since ancient times, as shown by the findings in the villages of Stentinello, Ognina, Plemmirio, Matrensa, Cozzo Pantano and ''Thapsos'', which already had a relationship with
Mycenaean Greece Mycenaean Greece (or the Mycenaean civilization) was the last phase of the Bronze Age in Ancient Greece, spanning the period from approximately 1750 to 1050 BC.. It represents the first advanced and distinctively Greek civilization in mainland ...
. Syracuse was founded in 734 or 733 BC by Greek settlers from
Corinth Corinth ( ; el, Κόρινθος, Kórinthos, ) is the successor to an ancient city, and is a former municipality A municipality is usually a single administrative division Administrative division, administrative unitArticle 3(1). ...

Corinth
and
Tenea Tenea ( el, Τενέα) is a municipal unit within the municipality of Corinth Corinth ( ; el, Κόρινθος, Kórinthos, ) is the successor to an ancient city, and is a former municipality A municipality is usually a single adm ...
, led by the ''
oecist The ''oikistes'' ( gr, οἰκιστής), often anglicized Linguistic anglicisation (or anglicization, occasionally anglification, anglifying, or Englishing) is the practice of modifying foreign words, names, and phrases to make them easier to sp ...
'' (colonizer) Archias. There are many attested variants of the name of the city including ''Syrakousai'', ''Syrakosai'' and ''Syrakō''. The most acceptable theory is that the
Phoenicians Phoenicia () was an ancient Ancient history is the aggregate of past eventsWordNet Search – 3.0 ...

Phoenicians
called it Sour-ha-Koussim, which means "Stone of the seagulls" from which would come the name of Syracuse. A possible origin of the city's name was given by
Vibius SequesterVibius Sequester (active in the 4th or 5th century AD) is the Latin author of lists of geographical names. Work ''De fluminibus, fontibus, lacubus, nemoribus, gentibus, quorum apud poëtas mentio fit'' is made up of seven alphabetical lists of top ...
citing first
Stephanus ByzantiusStephanus is a masculine given name, a surname and a genus. It may refer to: Sole name * Stephanus I of Antioch, Patriarch of Antioch 342–344 * Stephanus of Byzantium, 6th century author of an important geographical dictionary * Stephanus of Al ...
''Ethnika'' 592.18–21,593.1–8, i.e.
Stephanus ByzantinusStephanus is a masculine given name, a surname and a genus. It may refer to: Sole name * Stephanus I of Antioch, Patriarch of Antioch 342–344 * Stephanus of Byzantium, 6th century author of an important geographical dictionary * Stephanus of Alexa ...

Stephanus Byzantinus
' ''Ethnika'' (kat'epitomen), lemma
in that there was a Syracusian marsh () called ''Syrako'' and secondly Marcian's ''Periegesis'' wherein Archias gave the city the name of a nearby marsh; hence one gets ''Syrako'' (and thereby ''Syrakousai'' and other variants) for the name of Syracuse, a name also attested by
EpicharmusEpicharmus of Kos or Epicharmus Comicus or Epicharmus Comicus Syracusanus ( grc-gre, Ἐπίχαρμος ὁ Κῷος), thought to have lived between c. 550 and c. 460 BC, was a Greek dramatist and philosopher A philosopher is someone who prac ...
. The settlement of Syracuse was a planned event, as a strong central leader, Arkhias the aristocrat, laid out how property would be divided up for the settlers, as well as plans for how the streets of the settlement should be arranged, and how wide they should be. The nucleus of the ancient city was the small island of
Ortygia Ortygia (; it, Ortigia; grc-gre, Ὀρτυγία) is a small island which is the historical centre of the city of Syracuse, Sicily, Syracuse, Sicily. The island, also known as the ''Città Vecchia'' (Old City), contains many historical landmark ...
. The settlers found the land fertile and the native tribes to be reasonably well-disposed to their presence. The city grew and prospered, and for some time stood as the most powerful Greek city anywhere in the
Mediterranean The Mediterranean Sea is a sea connected to the Atlantic Ocean, surrounded by the Mediterranean Basin and almost completely enclosed by land: on the north by Western Europe, Western and Southern Europe and Anatolia, on the south by North Africa ...

Mediterranean
. Colonies were founded at
Akrai Akrai ( grc, Ἄκραι; la, Acrenses) was a Greek colony founded in Sicily (man) it, Siciliana (woman) , population_note = , population_blank1_title = , population_blank1 = , demographics_t ...
(664 BC), Kasmenai (643 BC), Akrillai (7th century BC), (7th century BC) and Kamarina (598 BC).


Classical period

The descendants of the first colonists, called ''Gamoroi'', held power until they were expelled by the lower class of the city assisted by Cyllirians, enslaved natives similar in status to the
helots The helots (; el, εἵλωτες, ''heílotes'') were a subjugated population that constituted a majority of the population of Laconia Laconia or Lakonia ( el, Λακωνία, , ) is a historical and administrative region of Greece Gre ...
of Sparta. The former, however, returned to power in 485 BC, thanks to the help of
Gelo upGelon Gelon also known as Gelo (Greek#REDIRECT Greek Greek may refer to: Greece Anything of, from, or related to Greece Greece ( el, Ελλάδα, , ), officially the Hellenic Republic, is a country located in Southeast Europe. Its popu ...

Gelo
, ruler of
Gela Gela (, ; grc, Γέλα), is a city and ''comune The (; plural: ) is a of , roughly equivalent to a or . Importance and function The provides essential public services: of births and deaths, , and maintenance of local roads and ...

Gela
. Gelo himself became the despot of the city, and moved many inhabitants of Gela, Kamarina and
Megara Megara (; el, Μέγαρα, ) is a historic town and a municipality in West Attica, Greece Greece ( el, Ελλάδα, , ), officially the Hellenic Republic, is a country located in Southeast Europe. Its population is approximately 10.7 mill ...

Megara
to Syracuse, building the new quarters of Tyche and Neapolis outside the walls. His program of new constructions included a new theatre, designed by Damocopos, which gave the city a flourishing cultural life: this in turn attracted personalities as
Aeschylus Aeschylus (, ; grc-gre, Αἰσχύλος ''Aiskhylos'', ; c. 525/524 – c. 456/455 BC) was an ancient Greek Ancient Greek includes the forms of the Greek language Greek ( el, label=Modern Greek Modern Greek (, , or , ''Kin ...
, Ario of
Methymna Mithymna () ( el, Μήθυμνα, also sometimes spelled ''Methymna'') is a town and former municipality A municipality is usually a single administrative division having Municipal corporation, corporate status and powers of self-government ...
and Eumelos of Corinth. The enlarged power of Syracuse made unavoidable the clash against the
Carthaginians The Punics, Carthaginians or Western Phoenicians, were a group of peoples in the Western Mediterranean who traced their origins to the Phoenicians. In modern scholarship, the term 'Punic' – the Latin equivalent of the Greek-derived term 'Phoen ...
, who ruled western Sicily. In the Battle of Himera, Gelo, who had allied with Theron of
Agrigento Agrigento (; scn, Girgenti or ; grc, Ἀκράγας, translit=Akragas; la, Agrigentum or ; ar, script=Latn, Kirkent or ) is a city on the southern coast of Sicily, Italy and capital of the province of Agrigento. It was one of the leading ...

Agrigento
, decisively defeated the African force led by
Hamilcar__NOTOC__ Hamilcar ( xpu, 𐤇𐤌𐤋𐤊‬, ,. or , , " Melqart is Gracious"; grc-gre, Ἁμίλκας, ''Hamílkas''; he, אחי-מלקרת) was a common Carthaginian masculine Masculinity (also called manhood or manliness) is a set of att ...
. A temple dedicated to
Athena Athena or Athene, often given the epithet An epithet (, ) is a byname, or a descriptive term (word or phrase), accompanying or occurring in place of a name and having entered common usage. It has various shades of meaning when applied ...

Athena
(on the site of today's Cathedral), was erected in the city to commemorate the event. Syracuse grew considerably during this time. Its walls encircled in the fifth century, but as early as the 470s BC the inhabitants started building outside the walls. The complete population of its territory approximately numbered 250,000 in 415 BC and the population size of the city itself was probably similar to Athens. Gelo was succeeded by his brother Hiero, who fought against the
Etruscans The Etruscan civilization () of ancient Italy The history of Italy covers the Ancient Period, the Middle Ages and the modern era. Since classical times, ancient Phoenicians, Magna Graecia, Greeks, Etruscan civilization, Etruscans, and Celts ha ...
at
Cumae Cumae ( grc, Κύμη, (Kumē) or or ; it, Cuma) was the first ancient Greek colony on the mainland of Italy, founded by settlers from Euboea in the 8th century BC and soon becoming one of the strongest colonies. It later became a rich Roma ...
in 474 BC. His rule was eulogized by poets like
Simonides of Ceos Simonides of Ceos (; grc-gre, Σιμωνίδης ὁ Κεῖος; c. 556–468 BC) was a Greek lyric poet Greek lyric is the body of lyric poetry Lyric poetry is a formal type of poetry which expresses personal emotions or feelings, typ ...
,
Bacchylides Bacchylides (; grc-gre, Βακχυλίδης, ''Bakkhylídēs''; c. 518 – c. 451 BC) was a Greek lyric poet Greek lyric is the body of lyric poetry Lyric poetry is a formal type of poetry which expresses personal emotions or feelings, typic ...
and
Pindar Pindar (; grc-gre, Πίνδαρος , ; la, Pindarus; c. 518 – 438 BC) was an Greek lyric, Ancient Greek lyric poet from Thebes, Greece, Thebes. Of the Western canon, canonical nine lyric poets of ancient Greece, his work is the best preserv ...

Pindar
, who visited his court. A democratic regime was introduced by Thrasybulos (467 BC). The city continued to expand in
Sicily (man) it, Siciliana (woman) , population_note = , population_blank1_title = , population_blank1 = , demographics_type1 = Ethnicity , demographics1_footnotes = , demographi ...

Sicily
,
fighting Combat (French language, French for ''fight'') is a purposeful violence, violent conflict meant to physically harm or kill the opposition. Combat may be armed (using weapons) or unarmed (Hand-to-hand combat, not using weapons). Combat is sometime ...
against the rebellious
Siculi The Sicels (; la, Siculi; grc, Σικελοί ''Sikeloi'') were an Italic tribe who inhabited eastern Sicily (masculine) it, Siciliana (feminine) , population_note = , population_blank1_title = , populatio ...
, and on the
Tyrrhenian Sea The Tyrrhenian Sea (; it, Mar Tirreno , french: Mer Tyrrhénienne , sc, Mare Tirrenu, co, Mari Tirrenu, scn, Mari Tirrenu, nap, Mare Tirreno) is part of the Mediterranean Sea The Mediterranean Sea is a connected to the , surrounded by ...
, making expeditions up to
Corsica Corsica (, Upper , Southern , ; french: link=no, Corse ; lij, link=no, Còrsega) is an island in the Mediterranean Sea The Mediterranean Sea is a connected to the , surrounded by the and almost completely enclosed by land: on the north ...

Corsica
and
Elba Elba ( it, isola d'Elba, ; la, Ilva; Ancient Greek Ancient Greek includes the forms of the Greek language used in ancient Greece and the classical antiquity, ancient world from around 1500 BC to 300 BC. It is often roughly divided into ...

Elba
. In the late 5th century BC, Syracuse found itself at war with
Athens , image_skyline = File:Athens Montage L.png, center, 275px, alt=Athens montage. Clicking on an image in the picture causes the browser to load the appropriate article. rect 15 15 985 460 Acropolis of Athens rect 15 475 48 ...

Athens
, which sought more resources to fight the
Peloponnesian War The Peloponnesian War (431–404 BC) was an ancient Greek Ancient Greek includes the forms of the Greek language Greek ( el, label=Modern Greek Modern Greek (, , or , ''Kiní Neoellinikí Glóssa''), generally referred to ...

Peloponnesian War
. The Syracusans enlisted the aid of a general from
Sparta Sparta (Doric Greek Doric or Dorian ( grc, Δωρισμός, Dōrismós) was an . Its variants were spoken in the southern and eastern as well as in , , , , , some islands in the southern and some cities on the south east coast of ...

Sparta
, Athens' foe in the war, to defeat the Athenians, destroy their ships, and leave them to starve on the island (see
Sicilian Expedition The Sicilian Expedition was an Classical Athens, Athenian military expedition to Sicily, which took place from 415–413 BC during the Peloponnesian War between the Athenian empire, or the Delian League, on one side and Sparta, Syracuse, Sicily ...

Sicilian Expedition
). In 401 BC, Syracuse contributed a force of 300
hoplites Hoplites () ( grc, ὁπλίτης : hoplítēs) were citizen-soldiers of Ancient Greek Ancient Greek includes the forms of the Greek language Greek ( el, label=Modern Greek Modern Greek (, , or , ''Kiní Neoellinikí Glóssa' ...

hoplites
and a general to
Cyrus the Younger Cyrus the Younger ( peo, 𐎤𐎢𐎽𐎢𐏁 ''Kūruš''), son of Darius II of Persia and Parysatis, was a Persian prince and general A general officer is an officer of high rank in the armies, and in some nations' air forces, space fo ...
's Army of the Ten Thousand. Then in the early 4th century BC, the
tyrant A tyrant (from Ancient Greek , ''tyrannos''), in the modern English language, English usage of the word, is an absolute ruler who is unrestrained by law, or one who has usurped a legitimate ruler's sovereignty. Often portrayed as cruel, ty ...

tyrant
was again at war against
Carthage Carthage was the capital city of the ancient , on the eastern side of the in what is now . Carthage was the most important trading hub of the Ancient Mediterranean and one of the most affluent cities of the . The city developed from a n colony ...
and, although losing Gela and Camarina, kept that power from capturing the whole of Sicily. After the end of the conflict Dionysius built a massive fortress on Ortygia and 22 km-long walls around all of Syracuse. Another period of expansion saw the destruction of
Naxos Naxos (; el, Νάξος, ) is a list of islands of Greece, Greek island and the largest of the Cyclades. It was the centre of archaic Cycladic culture. The island is famous as a source of Emery (rock), emery, a rock rich in corundum, which un ...
,
Catania Catania (, , Sicilian and , grc, Κατάνη) is the second largest city in Sicily (man) it, Siciliana (woman) , population_note = , population_blank1_title = , population_blank1 = , d ...

Catania
and
Lentini 250px, Mother Church. Lentini (Sicilian: ''Lintini'', Ancient Greek Ancient Greek includes the forms of the Greek language used in ancient Greece and the classical antiquity, ancient world from around 1500 BC to 300 BC. It is often roughl ...

Lentini
; then Syracuse entered again in war against Carthage (397 BC). After various changes of fortune, the Carthaginians managed to besiege Syracuse itself, but were eventually pushed back by a pestilence. A treaty in 392 BC allowed Syracuse to enlarge further its possessions, founding the cities of
Adrano Adrano ( scn, Adranu), ancient Adranon, is a town and ''comune The (; plural: ) is a basic Administrative division, constituent entity of Italy, roughly equivalent to a township or municipality. Importance and function The provides m ...

Adrano
n, and , and conquering
Rhegion Reggio di Calabria ( scn, label= Reggino, Rìggiu; el, label= Bovesia Calabrian Greek The Calabrian dialect of Greek language, Greek, or Grecanico
on the continent. In the
Adriatic The Adriatic Sea () is a body of water separating the Italian Peninsula from the Balkans. The Adriatic is the northernmost arm of the Mediterranean Sea, extending from the Strait of Otranto (where it connects to the Ionian Sea) to the northwest a ...

Adriatic
, to facilitate trade, founded
Ancona Ancona (, also , ; ) is a city and a seaport in the Marche region in central Italy, with a population of around 101,997 . Ancona is the capital of the province of Ancona and of the region. The city is located northeast of Rome, on the Adriatic ...

Ancona
,
Adria Adria is a town and ''comune'' in the province of Rovigo in the Veneto region of northern Italy, situated between the mouths of the rivers Adige and Po River, Po. The remains of the Etruria, Etruscan city of Atria or Hatria are to be found below ...

Adria
and Issa. Apart from his battle deeds, Dionysius was famous as a patron of art, and
Plato Plato ( ; grc-gre, Πλάτων ; 428/427 or 424/423 – 348/347 BC) was an Classical Athens, Athenian philosopher during the Classical Greece, Classical period in Ancient Greece, founder of the Platonist school of thought and the Platoni ...

Plato
himself visited Syracuse several times, where Dionysius, offended by Plato's daring to disagree with the king, imprisoned the philosopher and sold him into slavery. His successor was
Dionysius the Younger Dionysius the Younger ( el, Διονύσιος ὁ Νεώτερος, 343 BCE), or Dionysius II, was a Greek politician who ruled Syracuse, Sicily Syracuse ; scn, Sarausa or scn, Seragusa, label=none ; lat, Syrācūsae ; grc-att, Συ ...
, who was however expelled by Dion in 356 BC. But the latter's despotic rule led in turn to his expulsion, and Dionysius reclaimed his throne in 347 BC. Dionysius was besieged in Syracuse by the Syracusan general
Hicetas Hicetas ( grc, Ἱκέτας or ; c. 400 – c. 335 BC) was a Greek Greek may refer to: Greece Anything of, from, or related to Greece Greece ( el, Ελλάδα, , ), officially the Hellenic Republic, is a country located in Southeast Eu ...
in 344 BC. The following year the Corinthian Timoleon installed a democratic regime in the city after he exiled Dionysius and defeated Hicetas. The long series of internal struggles had weakened Syracuse's power on the island, and Timoleon tried to remedy this, defeating the Carthaginians in the Battle of the Crimissus (339 BC).


Hellenistic period

After Timoleon's death the struggle among the city's parties restarted and ended with the rise of another tyrant, Agathocles of Syracuse, Agathocles, who seized power with a coup in 317 BC. He resumed the war against Carthage, with alternate fortunes. He was Siege of Syracuse (311–309 BC), besieged in Syracuse by the Carthaginians in 311 BC, but he escaped from the city with a small fleet. He scored a moral success, bringing the war to the Carthaginians' native African soil, inflicting heavy losses to the enemy. The defenders of Syracuse destroyed the Carthaginian army which besieged them. However, Agathocles was eventually defeated in Africa as well. The war ended with another treaty of peace which did not prevent the Carthaginians from interfering in the politics of Syracuse after the death of Agathocles (289 BC). They Siege of Syracuse (278 BC), laid siege to Syracuse for the fourth and last time in 278 BC. They retreated at the arrival of king Pyrrhus of Epirus, whom Syracuse had asked for help. After a brief period under the rule of Epirus, Hiero II of Syracuse, Hiero II seized power in 275 BC. Hiero inaugurated a period of 50 years of peace and prosperity, in which Syracuse became one of the most renowned capitals of Antiquity. He issued the so-called ''Lex Hieronica'', which was later adopted by the Romans for their administration of Sicily; he also had the theatre enlarged and a new immense altar, the "Hiero's Ara", built. Under his rule lived the most famous Syracusan, the mathematician and natural philosophy, natural philosopher
Archimedes Archimedes of Syracuse (; grc, ; ; ) was a Greek#REDIRECT Greek Greek may refer to: Greece Anything of, from, or related to Greece Greece ( el, Ελλάδα, , ), officially the Hellenic Republic, is a country located in Southeast Eu ...

Archimedes
. Among his many inventions were various military engines including the claw of Archimedes, later used to resist the Siege of Syracuse (214–212 BC), Roman siege of 214–212 BC. Literary figures included Theocritus and others. Hiero's successor, the young Hieronymus of Syracuse, Hieronymus (ruled from 215 BC), broke the alliance with the Romans after their defeat at the Battle of Cannae and accepted
Carthage Carthage was the capital city of the ancient , on the eastern side of the in what is now . Carthage was the most important trading hub of the Ancient Mediterranean and one of the most affluent cities of the . The city developed from a n colony ...
's support. The Romans, led by consul Marcus Claudius Marcellus, Siege of Syracuse (214–212 BC), besieged the city in 214 BC. The city held out for three years, but fell in 212 BC. The successes of the Syracusians in repelling the Roman siege had made them overconfident. In 212 BC, the Romans received information that the city's inhabitants were to participate in the annual festival to their goddess Artemis. A small party of Roman soldiers approached the city under the cover of night and managed to scale the walls to get into the outer city and with reinforcements soon took control, killing Archimedes in the process, but the main fortress remained firm. After an eight-month siege and with parleys in progress, an Iberian captain named Moeriscus is believed to have let the Romans in near the Fountains of Arethusa. On the agreed signal, during a diversionary attack, he opened the gate. After setting guards on the houses of the pro-Roman faction, Marcellus gave Syracuse to plunder.


Imperial Roman and Byzantine period

Though declining slowly through the years, Syracuse maintained the status of capital of the Roman government of Sicily and seat of the praetor. It remained an important port for trade between the Eastern and the Western parts of the Empire. Christianity spread in the city through the efforts of Paul of Tarsus and Saint Marziano, the first bishop of the city, who made it one of the main centres of proselytism in the West. In the age of Christian persecutions massive catacombs were carved, whose size is second only to those of Rome. After a period of Vandal rule, 469–477, Syracuse and the island was recovered for Roman rule under Odoacer, 476–491 and Theodoric the Great, 491–526, by Belisarius for the
Byzantine Empire The Byzantine Empire, also referred to as the Eastern Roman Empire, or Byzantium, was the continuation of the Roman Empire The Roman Empire ( la, Imperium Rōmānum ; grc-gre, Βασιλεία τῶν Ῥωμαίων, Basileía tôn ...

Byzantine Empire
(31 December 535). From 663 to 668 Syracuse was the seat of the Greek-speaking Emperor
Constans II Constans II ( gr, Κώνστας, ''Kōnstas''; 7 November 630 – 15 July 668), nicknamed "the Bearded" (ὁ Πωγωνᾶτος; ''ho Pogonâtos''), was emperor of the Byzantine Empire from 641 to 668. He was the last attested emperor to serve ...
, as well as a capital of the Byzantine (Eastern Roman) Empire and metropolis of the whole Sicilian Church. Constans II was assassinated when his plans to permanently replace the Byzantine capital of Constantinople with Syracuse became suspected.


Emirate of Sicily

The city was Siege of Syracuse (827–828), besieged by the Aghlabids for almost a year in 827–828, but Byzantine reinforcements prevented its fall. It remained the center of Byzantine resistance to the gradual Muslim conquest of Sicily until it fell to the Aghlabids after Siege of Syracuse (877–878), another siege on 20/21 May 878. During the two centuries of Muslim rule, the capital of the Emirate of Sicily was moved from Syracuse to
Palermo Palermo ( , ; scn, Palermu , locally also or ; la, Panormus, from grc, Πάνορμος, Pánormos; older ar, بَلَرْم‎, Balarm) is a city in southern Italy Southern Italy ( it, Sud Italia; nap, 'o Sudde; scn, Italia dû Sud), ...

Palermo
. The cathedral was converted into a mosque and the quarter on the
Ortygia Ortygia (; it, Ortigia; grc-gre, Ὀρτυγία) is a small island which is the historical centre of the city of Syracuse, Sicily, Syracuse, Sicily. The island, also known as the ''Città Vecchia'' (Old City), contains many historical landmark ...
island was gradually rebuilt along Islamic styles. The city, nevertheless, maintained important trade relationships, and housed a relatively flourishing cultural and artistic life: several Arab poets, including Ibn Hamdis, the most important Siculo-Arabic, Sicilian Arab poet of the 12th century, flourished in the city.


Norman kingdom of Sicily

In 1038, the Byzantine general George Maniakes reconquered the city, sending the relics of St. Lucy to Constantinople. The eponymous castle on the cape of Ortygia bears his name, although it was built under the Hohenstaufen rule. In 1085 the Normans entered Syracuse, one of the last Arab strongholds, after a summer-long siege by Roger I of Sicily and his son Jordan of Hauteville, who was given the city as count. New quarters were built, and the cathedral was restored, as well as other churches.


High medieval period

In 1194, Emperor Henry VI occupied the Sicilian kingdom, including Syracuse. After a short period of Genoa#Middle Ages and Renaissance, Genoese rule (1205–1220) under the notorious admiral and pirate Alamanno da Costa, which favoured a rise of trades, royal authority was re-asserted in the city by Frederick II, Holy Roman Emperor, Frederick II. He began the construction of the Castello Maniace, the Bishops' Palace and the Bellomo Palace. Frederick's death brought a period of unrest and feudal anarchy. In the War of the Sicilian Vespers between the Capetian House of Anjou, Angevin and Crown of Aragon, Aragonese dynasties for control of Sicily, Syracuse sided with the Aragonese and expelled the Angevins in 1298, receiving from the Spanish sovereigns great privileges in reward. The preeminence of baronial families is also shown by the construction of the palaces of Abela, Chiaramonte, Nava, Montalto .


16th–20th centuries

The city was struck by two ruinous earthquakes in 1542 and 1693 Sicily earthquake, 1693, and a plague in 1729. The 17th century destruction changed the appearance of Syracuse forever, as well as the entire Val di Noto, whose cities were rebuilt along the typical lines of Sicilian Baroque, considered one of the most typical expressions of the architecture of Southern Italy. The spread of cholera in 1837 led to a revolt against the House of Bourbon, Bourbon government. The punishment was the move of the province capital seat to Noto, but the unrest had not been totally choked, as the Siracusani took part in the Sicilian revolution of 1848. After the Unification of Italy of 1865, Syracuse regained its status of provincial capital. In the late 19th century, the walls (including Porta Ligny) were demolished and a bridge connecting the mainland to Ortygia island was built. In the following year a railway link was constructed.


Modern history

Both Allies of World War II, Allied and Nazi Germany, German bombings in 1943 caused heavy destruction during World War II. ''Operation Husky'', the codename for the Allied invasion of Sicily, was launched on the night between 9–10 July 1943 with British forces attacking the southeast of the island. The plan was for the 5th Infantry Division (United Kingdom), British 5th Infantry Division, part of General (United Kingdom), General Bernard Montgomery, Sir Bernard Montgomery's Eighth Army (United Kingdom), Eighth Army to capture Syracuse on the first day of the invasion. This part of the operation went completely according to plan, and British forces captured Syracuse on the first night of the operation. The port was then used as a base for the British Royal Navy. To the west of the city is a Syracuse Commonwealth War Graves Commission Cemetery, Commonwealth War Graves cemetery where about 1,000 men are buried. After the end of the war the northern quarters of Syracuse experienced a heavy, often chaotic, expansion, favoured by the quick process of industrialization. Syracuse today has about 125,000 inhabitants and numerous attractions for the visitor interested in historical sites (such as the Ear of Dionysius). A process of recovering and restoring the historical centre has been ongoing since the 1990s. Nearby places of note include
Catania Catania (, , Sicilian and , grc, Κατάνη) is the second largest city in Sicily (man) it, Siciliana (woman) , population_note = , population_blank1_title = , population_blank1 = , d ...

Catania
, Noto, Modica and Ragusa, Italy, Ragusa.


Geography


Climate

Syracuse experiences a hot-summer Mediterranean climate (Köppen climate classification ''Csa'') with mild, wet winters and warm to hot, dry summers. Snow is infrequent; the last heavy snowfall in the city occurred in December 2014. Frosts are very rare, with the last one also happening in December 2014 when the temperature dropped to the all-time record low of 0 °C. A temperature of was registered in Syracuse by the Sicilian Agrometeorological Information Service (SAIS) on 11 August 2021, if recognized by the World Meteorological Organization, this would be the highest temperature ever recorded in Europe. Guido Guidi, lieutenant colonel of the Servizio Meteorologico, Italian Meteorological Service, however, says the highest temperature registered in the organizations' stations during the heatwave was , on Naval Air Station Sigonella. Guidi underlines that the reported data by SAIS "is produced directly by the stations and is not subject to any control and validation procedure, neither automatic nor manual. It can therefore report errors due to sensor malfunctions as well as maintenance interventions".


Government


Demographics

In 2016, there were 122,051 people residing in Syracuse, located in the province of Syracuse,
Sicily (man) it, Siciliana (woman) , population_note = , population_blank1_title = , population_blank1 = , demographics_type1 = Ethnicity , demographics1_footnotes = , demographi ...

Sicily
, of whom 48.7% were male and 51.3% were female. Minors (children ages 18 and younger) totalled 18.9 percent of the population compared to pensioners who number 16.9 percent. This compares with the Italian average of 18.1 percent (minors) and 19.9 percent (pensioners). The average age of Syracuse resident is 40 compared to the Italian average of 42. In the five years between 2002 and 2007, the population of Syracuse declined by 0.5 percent, while Italy as a whole grew by 3.6 percent. The reason for decline is a population flight to the suburbs, and northern Italy. The current birth rate of Syracuse is 9.75 births per 1,000 inhabitants compared to the Italian average of 9.45 births. , 97.9% of the population was of Italian descent. The largest immigrant group came from other European nations (particularly those from Poland, and the United Kingdom): 0.6%, North Africa (mostly Demographics of Tunisia, Tunisian): 0.5%, and South Asia: 0.4%.


Tourism

Since 2005, the entire city of Syracuse, along with the
Necropolis of Pantalica The Necropolis of Pantalica is a collection of cemeteries with rock-cut chamber tombs in southeast Sicily, Italy. Dating from the 13th to the 7th centuries BC., there was thought to be over 5,000 tombs, although the most recent estimate suggests a ...
which falls within the
province of Syracuse The Province of Syracuse ( it, provincia di Siracusa; scn, pruvincia di Sarausa) was a province A province is almost always an administrative division Administrative division, administrative unitArticle 3(1). , country subdivision, admin ...
, were listed as a
World Heritage Site A World Heritage Site is a landmark or area with legal protection by an international convention administered by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO). World Heritage Sites are designated by UNESCO for h ...
by UNESCO. This programme aims to catalogue, name and conserve sites of outstanding cultural or natural importance to the common heritage of World population, humanity. The deciding committee which evaluates potential candidates described their reasons for choosing Syracuse because "monuments and archeological sites situated in Syracuse are the finest example of outstanding architectural creation spanning several cultural aspects; Culture of Greece, Greek, Ancient Rome, Roman and Baroque", following on that Ancient Syracuse was "directly linked to events, ideas and literary works of outstanding universal significance".


Buildings of the Greek period

* The ''Temple of Apollo (Syracuse), Temple of Apollo'', at Piazza Emanuele Pancali, adapted to a church in Byzantine times and to a mosque under Arab rule. * The ''Fountain of Arethusa'', on the Ortygia island. According to a legend, the nymph Arethusa (mythology), Arethusa, hunted by Alpheus, took shelter here. * The ''Greek Theatre of Syracuse, Greek Theatre'', whose cavea is one of the largest ever built by the ancient Greeks: it has 67 rows, divided into nine sections with eight aisles. Only traces of the scene and the orchestra remain. The edifice (still used today) was modified by the Romans, who adapted it to their different style of spectacles, including also circus games. Near the theatre are the ''latomìe'', stone quarries, also used as prisons in ancient times. The most famous ''latomìa'' is the ''Ear of Dionysius, Orecchio di Dionisio'' ("Ear of Dionysius"). * The Roman amphitheatre of Syracuse, Roman amphitheatre. It was partly carved out from the rock. In the centre of the area is a rectangular space which was used for the scenic machinery. * The ''Tomb of Archimede'', in the Grotticelli Necropolis. Decorated with two Doric columns. * The ''Temple of Olympian Zeus'', about outside the city, built around the 6th century BC.


Buildings of the Christian period

* Cathedral of Syracuse ( it, Duomo): built by bishop Zosimo in the 7th-century over the great ''Temple of
Athena Athena or Athene, often given the epithet An epithet (, ) is a byname, or a descriptive term (word or phrase), accompanying or occurring in place of a name and having entered common usage. It has various shades of meaning when applied ...

Athena
'' (5th century BC), on Ortygia island. This was a Doric columns, Doric edifice with six columns on the short sides and 14 on the long sides: these are still incorporated into the walls of the Cathedral. The base of the temple had three steps. The interior of the church has a nave and two aisles. The roof of the nave is from Norman times, as well as the mosaics in the apses. The façade was rebuilt by Andrea Palma in 1725–1753, with a double order of Corinthian columns, and statues by Ignazio Marabitti. The interior houses a 12th-13th-century marble font, a silver statue of ''St Lucy'' by Pietro Rizzo (1599), a Ciborium (architecture), ciborium by Luigi Vanvitelli, and a statue of the ''Madonna della Neve'' ("Madonna of the Snow", 1512) by Antonello Gagini. * Basilica of ''Santa Lucia Extra moenia'': a Byzantine church built (after Norman rebuilt), according to tradition, in the same place of the martyrdom of the saint in 303 AD. The current appearance is from the 15th–16th centuries. The most ancient parts still preserved include the portal, the three half-circular apses and the first two orders of the belfry. Under the church are the ''Catacombs of St. Lucy''. For this church Caravaggio painted the Burial of St. Lucy (Caravaggio), Burial of St. Lucy. * ''Madonna delle Lacrime, Siracusa, Madonna delle Lacrime'': (Our Lady of Tears Shrine) 20th century shrine church. * ''San Benedetto, Siracusa, San Benedetto'': 16th century church, restored after 1693. It houses a painting depicting ''Death of Saint Benedict'' by the Caravaggisti Mario Minniti. * Chiesa della Concezione (14th century, rebuilt in the 18th century), with the annexed Benedictine convent. * ''San Cristoforo, Siracusa, San Cristoforo'': 14th century church, rebuilt in 18th-century. * ''San Giovanni Battista'': 14th century church. * ''San Filippo Apostolo, Siracusa, San Filippo Apostolo'': 18th-century church with stairs down to a Jewish ritual bath (Mikvah) dating to prior to the expulsion of Jews in 1492 * ''San Filippo Neri, Siracusa, San Filippo Neri: 17th-century facade and interior reconstructed in 18th-century * ''San Francesco all'Immacolata, Siracusa, San Francesco all'Immacolata'': church with a convex façade intermingled by columns and pilaster strips. It housed an ancient celebration, the Svelata ("Revelation"), in which an image of the Madonna was unveiled at dawn of 29 November. * ''San Giovanni Evangelista'': basilica church built by the Normans and destroyed in 1693. Only partially restored, it was erected over an ancient crypt of the martyr San Marciano, later destroyed by the Arabs. The main altar is Byzantine. It includes the ''Catacombs of San Giovanni'', featuring a maze of tunnels and passages, with thousands of tombs and several frescoes. * ''San Giuseppe, Siracusa, San Giuseppe'': 18th-century octagonal church, in disrepair * ''Santa Lucìa alla Badìa, Siracusa, Santa Lucia alla Badia'': Baroque sanctuary church built after the 1693 earthquake. * ''Santa Maria dei Miracoli, Siracusa, Santa Maria dei Miracoli'': 14th century church. * ''San Martino, Siracusa, San Martino'': 6th-century church, 14th-century facade, 18th-century interiors * ''San Paolo Apostolo, Siracusa, San Paolo Apostolo'': 18th century church. * ''Spirito Santo, Siracusa, Spirito Santo'': 18th-century church. * Church of the Jesuit College, a majestic, Baroque building.


Other notable buildings

* Castello Maniace, constructed between 1232 and 1240, is an example of the military architecture of Frederick II's reign. It is a square structure with circular towers at each of the four corners. The most striking feature is the pointed portal, decorated with polychrome marbles. * ''Archaeological Museum'' with collections including findings from the mid-Bronze Age to 5th century BC. * ''Palazzo Lanza Buccheri'' (16th century). * ''Bellomo Palace Regional Gallery, Palazzo Bellomo'' (12th century), which contains an art museum that houses Antonello da Messina's ''Annunciation (Antonello da Messina), Annunciation'' (1474). * ''Palazzo Montalto'' (14th century), which conserves the old façade from the 14th century, with a pointed portal. * ''Archbishop's Palace'' (17th century, modified in the following century). It houses the ''Alagonian Library'', founded in the late 18th century. * ''Palazzo Vermexio': current Town Hall, includes fragments of an Ionic column, Ionic temple of the 5th century BC. * ''Palazzo Francica Nava'', with parts of the original 16th century building surviving. * ''Palazzo Beneventano del Bosco'', originally built in the Middle Ages but extensively modified between 1779 and 1788. It has a pleasant internal court. * ''Palazzo Migliaccio'' (15th century), with notable lava inlay decorations. * The ''Senate Palace'', housing in the court an 18th-century Coach (vehicle), coach. * ''Castle of Euryalos'', built outside the city by Dionysius the Elder and which was one of the most powerful fortresses of ancient times. It had three moats with a series of underground galleries which allowed the defenders to remove the materials the attackers could use to fill them. * ''Mikveh'': a bath used for the purpose of Tvilah, ritual immersion in Judaism, built during the Byzantine era. It is situated in the ''Giudecca'': the ancient Jewish Ghetto of Syracuse. * Monument to the Italians Fallen in Africa, Siracusa


Famous people

*
Archimedes Archimedes of Syracuse (; grc, ; ; ) was a Greek#REDIRECT Greek Greek may refer to: Greece Anything of, from, or related to Greece Greece ( el, Ελλάδα, , ), officially the Hellenic Republic, is a country located in Southeast Eu ...

Archimedes
, classical Greek mathematician, physicist and engineer * Achaeus of Syracuse, a Greek Tragedy, tragedian * Themistogenes, Greek historian. He wrote about the Anabasis (Xenophon), Anabasis and some other works about the Syracuse.Suda, §th.123
/ref> *
Saint Lucy Lucia of Syracuse (283–382), also called Saint Lucia ( la, Sancta Lucia) or Saint Lucy, was a Christian martyr A martyr refers to a person who, according to biblical stories, was killed because of their testimony of Jesus and God. In year ...
, Roman martyr * Pope Stephen III * Ibn Hamdis, Sicilian Arab poet * Vincenzo Mirabella, humanist and pioneer of archaeology * Claudio Schifano (born 1953), contemporary artist of informal painting


Sports

Syracuse is home to association football club A.S.D. Città di Siracusa, the latest reincarnation of several clubs dating back to 1924. The common feature is the azure shirts, hence the nickname ''Azzurri''. Siracusa play at the Stadio Nicola De Simone with an approximate capacity between 5,000 and 6,000.


See also

* Cassibile (village) * Greek coinage of Italy and Sicily * ''Malèna (film), Malèna'' – a 2000 romantic comedy-drama film starring Monica Bellucci and Giuseppe Sulfaro was mostly produced in Syracuse * Peloponnesian League * Sicilian Wars * Siracusa International Institute for Criminal Justice and Human Rights * Siracusa railway station


Notes


References


Further reading

*


External links

*
Coins from ancient Syracuse and Sicily



Photos of Ortigia in Syracuse
{{Authority control Syracuse, Sicily, 8th-century BC establishments in Italy Archaeological sites in Sicily Cities and towns in Sicily Coastal towns in Sicily Corinthian colonies Dorian colonies in Magna Graecia Mediterranean port cities and towns in Italy Municipalities of the Province of Syracuse Populated places established in the 8th century BC Sicilian Baroque World Heritage Sites in Italy Greek city-states