Syracuse (/ˈsɪrəkjuːs, -kjuːz/; Italian: Siracusa [siraˈkuːza] (listen); Sicilian: Sarausa [saɾaˈuːsa]; Latin: Syrācūsae; Ancient Greek: Συράκουσαι, romanized: Syrákousai; Medieval Greek: Συρακοῦσαι, romanized: Syrakoûsai) is a historic city on the island of Sicily, the capital of the Italian province of Syracuse. The city is notable for its rich Greek history, culture, amphitheatres, architecture, and as the birthplace of the preeminent mathematician and engineer 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 world. Syracuse is located in the southeast corner of the island of Sicily, next to the Gulf of Syracuse beside the Ionian Sea.
The city was founded by Ancient Greek Corinthians and Teneans and became a very powerful city-state. Syracuse was allied with Sparta and Corinth and exerted influence over the entirety of Magna Graecia, of which it was the most important city. Described by Cicero as "the greatest Greek city and the most beautiful of them all", it equaled Athens in size during the fifth century BC. It later became part of the Roman Republic and the Byzantine Empire. Under Emperor Constans II, it served as the capital of the Byzantine Empire (663–669). After this Palermo overtook it in importance, as the capital of the Kingdom of Sicily. Eventually the kingdom would be united with the Kingdom of Naples to form the Two Sicilies until the Italian unification of 1860.
In the modern day, the city is listed by UNESCO as a World Heritage Site along with the Necropolis of Pantalica. 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 book at 28:12 as Paul stayed there. The patron saint of the city is Saint Lucy; she was born in Syracuse and her feast day, Saint Lucy's Day, is celebrated on 13 December.
|Comune di Siracusa|
Coat of arms
Location of Syracuse
Location of Syracuse in Italy
|• Mayor||Francesco Italia|
|• Total||207.78 km2 (80.22 sq mi)|
|Elevation||17 m (56 ft)|
|• Density||590/km2 (1,500/sq mi)|
|Demonym(s)||Syracusan, Syracusian (en)|
|Time zone||UTC+1 (CET)|
|• Summer (DST)||UTC+2 (CEST)|
|Patron saint||Saint Lucy|
|Saint day||13 December|
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.
Syracuse was founded in 734 or 733 BC by Greek settlers from Corinth and Tenea, led by the oecist (colonizer) Archias. There are many attested variants of the name of the city including Συράκουσαι Syrakousai, Συράκοσαι Syrakosai and Συρακώ Syrakō. A possible origin of the city's name was given by Vibius Sequester citing first Stephanus Byzantius in that there was a Syracusian marsh (λίμνη) 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 Epicharmus. 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. 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. Colonies were founded at Akrai (664 BC), Kasmenai (643 BC), Akrillai (7th century BC), Helorus (7th century BC) and Kamarina (598 BC).
The descendants of the first colonists, called Gamoroi, held power until they were expelled by the Killichiroi, the lower class of the city. The former, however, returned to power in 485 BC, thanks to the help of Gelo, ruler of Gela. Gelo himself became the despot of the city, and moved many inhabitants of Gela, Kamarina and 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, Ario of Methymna and Eumelos of Corinth. The enlarged power of Syracuse made unavoidable the clash against the Carthaginians, who ruled western Sicily. In the Battle of Himera, Gelo, who had allied with Theron of Agrigento, decisively defeated the African force led by Hamilcar. A temple dedicated to 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 120 hectares (300 acres) in the fifth century, but as early as the 470's 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 at Cumae in 474 BC. His rule was eulogized by poets like Simonides of Ceos, Bacchylides and Pindar, who visited his court. A democratic regime was introduced by Thrasybulos (467 BC). The city continued to expand in Sicily, fighting against the rebellious Siculi, and on the Tyrrhenian Sea, making expeditions up to Corsica and Elba. In the late 5th century BC, Syracuse found itself at war with Athens, which sought more resources to fight the Peloponnesian War. The Syracusans enlisted the aid of a general from Sparta, Athens' foe in the war, to defeat the Athenians, destroy their ships, and leave them to starve on the island (see Sicilian Expedition). In 401 BC, Syracuse contributed a force of 300 hoplites and a general to Cyrus the Younger's Army of the Ten Thousand.
Then in the early 4th century BC, the tyrant Dionysius the Elder was again at war against Carthage 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, Catania and 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 Adranon, Tyndarion and Tauromenos, and conquering Rhegion on the continent. In the Adriatic, to facilitate trade, Dionysius the Elder founded Ancona, Adria and Issa. Apart from his battle deeds, Dionysius was famous as a patron of art, and Plato himself visited Syracuse several times.
His successor was Dionysius the Younger, 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 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).
After Timoleon's death the struggle among the city's parties restarted and ended with the rise of another tyrant, Agathocles, who seized power with a coup in 317 BC. He resumed the war against Carthage, with alternate fortunes. He was 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 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 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 philosopher Archimedes. Among his many inventions were various military engines including the claw of Archimedes, later used to resist the Roman siege of 214 BC–212 BC. Literary figures included Theocritus and others.
Hiero's successor, the young Hieronymus (ruled from 215 BC), broke the alliance with the Romans after their defeat at the Battle of Cannae and accepted Carthage's support. The Romans, led by consul Marcus Claudius Marcellus, 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.
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 (31 December 535). From 663 to 668 Syracuse was the seat of Emperor Constans II, as well as a capital of the Roman Empire and metropolis of the whole Sicilian Church.
The city was 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 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. The Cathedral was converted into a mosque and the quarter on the Ortygia 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 Sicilian Arab poet of the 12th century, flourished in the city.
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.
In 1194, Emperor Henry VI occupied the Sicilian kingdom, including Syracuse. After a short period of 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. 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 Angevin and 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.
The city was struck by two ruinous earthquakes in 1542 and 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 art of Southern Italy. The spread of cholera in 1837 led to a revolt against the 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 independence of 1848.
After the Unification of Italy of 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.
Heavy destruction was caused during World War II by both the Allied and German bombings in 1943. 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 British 5th Infantry Division, part of General Sir Bernard Montgomery's 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 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, Noto, Modica and Ragusa.
Syracuse experiences a hot-summer Mediterranean climate (Köppen climate classification Csa) with mild, wet winters and warm to hot, dry summers. Snow is infrequent but not rare at all; the last heavy snowfall in the city occurred in December 2014 but frosts are very rare, the last one happening in December 2014 with 0 °C.
In 2016, there were 122,051 people residing in Syracuse, located in the province of Syracuse, Sicily, of whom 48.7% were male and 51.3% were female. Minors (children ages 18 and younger) totalled 18.87 percent of the population compared to pensioners who number 16.87 percent. This compares with the Italian average of 18.06 percent (minors) and 19.94 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 0.49 percent, while Italy as a whole grew by 3.56 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.
As of 2006, 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): 0.61%, North Africa (mostly Tunisian): 0.51%, and South Asia: 0.37%.
|Syracuse and the Rocky Necropolis of Pantalica|
|UNESCO World Heritage Site|
The Greek theatre of Syracuse
|Criteria||Cultural: ii, iii, iv, vi|
|Inscription||2005 (29th Session)|
|Buffer zone||5,519.4 ha|
Since 2005, the entire city of Syracuse, along with the Necropolis of Pantalica which falls within the province of Syracuse, were listed as a World Heritage Site by UNESCO. This programme aims to catalogue, name and conserve sites of outstanding cultural or natural importance to the common heritage of 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; Greek, Roman and Baroque", following on that Ancient Syracuse was "directly linked to events, ideas and literary works of outstanding universal significance".
Achille Majeroni (24 August 1881 – 12 October 1964) was an Italian film actor. He appeared in 73 films between 1913 and 1964. He was born in Syracuse, Sicily and died in Rome.Alessio di Mauro
Alessio di Mauro (born 9 August 1977) is a former professional tennis player from Italy. During his career, he reached the final of one ATP tournament, the 2007 ATP Buenos Aires. On 26 February 2007 the left-hander reached his career high ranking of world no. 68.Carlo Grande (rower)
Carlo Grande (born 3 July 1974 in Syracuse, Sicily) is an Italian rower.Concetto Lo Bello
Concetto Lo Bello (born 13 May 1924 in Syracuse—died 9 September 1991 in the same city) was an Italian association football international referee.
He holds the record for refereeing the most games in Serie A (328).
His career spanned the years 1944 to 1974, refereeing his first international match in 1958.He officiated at 34 international matches, including the West Germany–USSR semi-final in 1966. He had been provisionally chosen to referee the 1970 FIFA World Cup Final, but the Italian team reached the final, so he could not officiate.Lo Bello also refereed the European Cup finals of 1968 (Manchester United–Benfica) and 1970 (Feyenoord v Celtic), as well as the Inter-Cities Fairs Cup 2nd leg final in 1966 and the UEFA Cup 2nd leg final in 1974. The latter final occurred shortly after his fiftieth birthday, making him the oldest official at a European final. He retired after this match.After retirement, he entered politics, as a deputy for the Christian Democrat party.
He was Minister of Sport for a spell, and, briefly, was Minister for Drought.
In 1986, he was elected mayor of Syracuse, but was only in the job for five months.
In 2012, he was posthumously inducted into the Italian Football Hall of Fame.His son, Rosario Lo Bello, was also a Serie A and international referee.Enzo Maiorca
Enzo Maiorca (21 June 1931 – 13 November 2016) was an Italian free diver who held several world records.Francesco Italia
Francesco Italia (born 11 September 1972 in Milan) is an Italian politician.Italia ran as an independent for the office of Mayor of Syracuse at the 2018 Italian local elections, supported by a centre-left coalition. He won and took his office on 27 June 2018.List of mayors of Syracuse, Sicily
The Mayor of Syracuse is an elected politician who, along with the Syracuse's City Council, is accountable for the strategic government of Syracuse in Sicily, Italy. The current Mayor is Francesco Italia, a centre-left independent, who took office on 27 June 2018.Mario Minniti
Mario Minniti (8 December 1577 – 22 November 1640) was an Italian artist active in Sicily after 1606.
Born in Syracuse, Sicily, he arrived in Rome in 1593, where he became the friend, collaborator and model of the key Baroque painter Michelangelo Merisi da Caravaggio (1571–1610). His main fame today is his identification, or proposed identification, as a model in many of Caravaggio's early works, including Boy with a Basket of Fruit, The Fortune Teller, The Musicians, Boy Bitten by a Lizard (probable), Bacchus, The Lute Player, The Calling of Saint Matthew, and The Martyrdom of Saint Matthew.
He ceases to appear as a model after about 1600, when he is believed to have married, but he may have been involved with Caravaggio and others in the 1606 street brawl which resulted in the death of Ranuccio Tomassoni at Caravaggio's hands – his biographer records that he fled to Sicily following a homicide, from where he petitioned for a pardon (it was eventually granted), and it is known that he sheltered Caravaggio on the latter's stay in Sicily in 1608–1609, procuring for him the important commission for the Burial of Saint Lucy. In Sicily he established a successful workshop producing religious commissions and eventually became a respected local businessman. Because of the nature of his output, where paintings were produced as a collaborative effort by assistants and pupils, it is frequently difficult to identify exactly which works, or parts of works, are by Minniti's own hand. It is clear that he brought to Sicily the lessons he had learnt from Caravaggio, in particular the use of dramatic chiaroscuro and the depiction of scenes seized at the moment of greatest dramatic intensity, but his work (or rather his workshop's output) has been criticised for "endlessly recycled motifs" and "bland religious canvasses". Nevertheless, he is held in high regard in Sicily, and it is possible to speak of a 'School of Minniti' in the island's artistic history.Methodios I of Constantinople
St. Methodios I or Methodius I (Greek: Μεθόδιος Α΄), (788/800 – June 14, 847) was Ecumenical Patriarch of Constantinople from March 4, 843 to June 14, 847. He was born in Syracuse and died in Constantinople. His feast day is celebrated on June 14 in both the East and the West.Necropolis of Pantalica
The Necropolis of Pantalica in southeast Sicily, Italy, is a collection of cemeteries with rock-cut chamber tombs dating from the 7th to the 13th centuries BC. There have been thought to be over 5000 tombs, although the most recent estimate suggests a figure of just under 4000. They extend around the flanks of a large promontory located at the junction of the Anapo river with its tributary, the Calcinara, about 23 kilometres northwest of Syracuse. Together with the city of Syracuse, Pantalica was listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2005.Ortygia
Ortigia (; Italian: Ortigia; Greek: Ὀρτυγία) is a small island which is the historical centre of the city of Syracuse, Sicily. The island, also known as Città Vecchia (Old City), contains many historical landmarks. The name originates from the Ancient Greek ortyx (ὄρτυξ), which means "Quail".Roman amphitheatre of Syracuse
The Roman amphitheatre of Syracuse is one of the best preserved structures in the city of Syracuse, Sicily, from the early Imperial period.Siege of Syracuse (868)
The Siege of Syracuse in 868 was conducted by the Aghlabids against Syracuse in Sicily, then a possession of the Byzantine Empire, during the long Muslim conquest of Sicily. During the siege the Aghlabids defeated a Byzantine fleet which came to the relief of the city. Because the siege failed to take the city, the Muslims resorted to pillaging the countryside surrounding it before they retired. A decade later, the Aghlabids finally conquered the city after the siege of 877–878.Siracusa
Siracusa may refer to:
Province of Syracuse, Sicily
Syracuse, Sicily, the capital of Syracuse province
Siracusa Calcio (2013 club), the football team representing the city
U.S. Siracusa a defunct football club
A.S. Siracusa a defunct football club
Chiara Siracusa, a Maltese singer
Mayla Siracusa, a Brazilian water polo playerStadio Nicola De Simone
Stadio Nicola de Simone (commonly known as La Fossa dei Leoni) is a football stadium in Syracuse, Sicily. It is currently home of Siracusa football team. The stadium was built in 1930 and was inaugurated in 1932. The stadium is named after Nicola de Simone, a Siracusa player who died in 1979 in a game against Palma Campania. The stadium is located in the center of Siracusa's historic district, near the Basilica of Santa Lucia and the Shrine of Our Lady of Tears.Stefania Prestigiacomo
Stefania Prestigiacomo (born 16 December 1966) is an Italian politician, member of the centre-right political party The People of Freedom and Member of the Chamber of Deputies of Italy since 1994.Temple of Apollo (Syracuse)
The Temple of Apollo (Greek: Ἀπολλώνιον Apollonion) is one of the most important ancient Greek monuments on Ortygia, in front of the Piazza Pancali in Syracuse, Sicily, Italy.Timeline of Syracuse, Sicily
The following is a timeline of the history of the city of Syracuse, Sicily, Italy. Syracuse was the main city of Sicily from 5th century BCE to 878 CE.Valentino Gallo
Valentino Gallo (born 17 July 1985) is an Italian water polo player who competed in the 2008 Summer Olympics and 2012 Summer Olympics. He was part of the silver medal winning team at the 2012 Summer Olympics. He is currently playing with AN Brescia in Italy.
|Climate data for Syracuse|
|Record high °C (°F)||18.6
|Average high °C (°F)||14.8
|Daily mean °C (°F)||11.1
|Average low °C (°F)||7.3
|Record low °C (°F)||3.0
|Average precipitation mm (inches)||75
|Average precipitation days||9||7||6||4||3||1||1||1||4||7||8||9||60|
|Source: Archivio climatico Enea-Casaccia|
Archaeological sites in Sicily
|Province of Agrigento|
|Province of Caltanissetta|
|Province of Catania|
|Province of Enna|
|Province of Messina|
|Province of Palermo|
|Province of Ragusa|
|Province of Syracuse|
|Province of Trapani|
Cities in Italy by population