Once you leave your luggage at the hotel, this is the tour that the Hotel Post is recommended for those who have little time but do not want to miss the most beautiful places in Ortigia.
The most ancient Doric temple of Sicily. It is a monument datable to the beginning of the sixth century BC and is therefore the oldest Doric temple in Sicily or at least the first corresponding to the model that was developing in the Greek world concerning the peripteral temple with stone columns. It has been undergoing several transformations: it was a Byzantine Church, which still has the front of staircase and traces of a median door, and then it became a Muslim mosque. Then the Norman church of the Savior overlapped the buildings, which was then incorporated into a sixteenth-century Spanish barracks, and in private buildings, but you still see some architectural elements. These successive overlapping severely damaged the building that was rediscovered in 1860 in the barracks and was brought fully to light by excavations carried out by Paolo Orsi in the years between 1938 and 1942.
Of the original structure (58.10×24.50 m), which included six columns on the short sides and 17 on the long sides, two columns were left standing on the south side, with part of, and other columns on the same side and the appended in front East to West The base has been restored. The columns were high m.6.62 (only the barrel) with a total height of m.7.98 with the capital. The upper part of the temple was covered with clay and some fragments dell’acroterio central stone is preserved at the Museum “Paolo Orsi” in Syracuse, where you can see a complete model of the temple and also a video showing the inside of the building.
On one of the steps of the east side is engraved an inscription of dedication to Apollo and you can read the name of the architect, very rare for a greek temple.
Piazza Archimede in Syracuse is a charming square lined by buildings which represent all the sicilian history, from Middle Age to the Baroque period. In the center is located the beautiful fountain of Diana Arthemis, made by the sculptor Giulio Moschetti in 1906 which represent the legend of Arethusa escaping from Alpheus while he tries to chase her.
The buildings that overlook the square trace ideally the whole history of the island up to nowadays.
Going clockwise we meet the Bank of Sicily palace, built in 1928, characterized by a portal characterized by a portal framed by columns and by a second order with Ionic pilasters. On the east side there is the Palazzo (1773 – 1800), with its slightly convex and irregular facade.
In the junction between via della Maestranza and Via Roma is located the original Palazzo Interlandi Pizzuti, built on the area of Palazzo Landolina. Then you can admire Palazzo Gargallo, founded during the seventeenth and then renovated with rich decorations during the years 1895 – 1899.
Contiguous to Palazzo Gargallo is Palazzo Lanza – Bucceri – originally Platamone, of which still has armorial bearings on the capitals of the columns. The building of the Bank of Italy (or “of the Clock”) – a fifteenth century building, rebuilt in the 50s – closes the fourth side of the square.
Piazza Duomo in Syracuse is strongly suggestive, and is considered among the most beautiful squares in Italy. It has a semi-elliptical shape and is dominated by the imposing facades of beautiful palaces, of the Baroque Cathedral (Duomo) and of the Church of Saint Lucia alla Badia. The magnificient cathedral, recently restored, is integrated into the ancient structure of the temple of Athena of the fourth century A.C., whose doric columns are still visible inside the church and along the external walls.
The doric temple of Athena was built in the fifth century BC the tyrant Gelon, after the victory against the Carthaginians in the battle of Himera. The so called “Athenaion” was hexastyle (six columns in front) peripteral (columns cell surrounded on all four sides), with 14 columns on the long sides. The pediment bore the great shield of the goddess in a gilded bronze.
Currently some columns and parts of the stylobate, made of local limestone, are visible on the left side of the cathedral, while other parts (marble tiles and gutters in the shape of lion’s head) have been moved to the Regional Archaeological Museum Paolo Orsi. Inside the Duomo are also clearly visible 9 columns on the right side and the two in front of the cell. According to the results of some excavations made during the first years of the twentieth century, before the building of the temple in that area there was another sacred place of worship dating back to the seventh century BC. This area therefore has been sacred for nearly 3000 years and still is.
Everyday from 7.30 to 19.30
Price: 2.00 euro
FONT OF ARETHUSA
The Font of Arethusa, sung by many poets, including Virgil, Pindar, Ovid, Milton, André Gide, D’Annunzio, is a source of fresh water flowing from a cave a few meters from the sea, symbol of Syracuse since ancient times.
The myth of Arethusa, nymph of Syracuse, reveals the deep connection between the Greek colonies and the motherland Greece. Arethusa, the maiden of the goddess of hunting Artemis, was seen by the god Alpheus (son of Oceanus) who fell in love and tried to seduce her against her will. To escape from her lover, Arethusa fled to Sicily, where Artemis turned her into a source close to the port of Syracuse, Ortigia (sacred to Artemis).
Zeus, moved by the love of Alpheus, turned him into a river located in Greece, near Olympia, so that he could flow underground to reach the Font. Even today near the Lungomare Alfeo (alpheus seafront), near the famous fountain, a spring called the Eye of Zillica flows. Cicero in the Verrines describes the Aretusa Font as “a source of incredibly large, full of fish and so located that the waves of the sea would flood if it were not protected by a massive stone wall.” Today from the road you can admire the font, just a short distance from the sea, adorned with papyrus vegetation, populated by ducks and freshwater fish, with spectacular views of the coast of the “Porto Grande”, site of the naval battle against the Athenians occurred in 453 B.C. There are no barriers and you can admire the site also from the lower level, where the aquarium is located.
The name of the castle comes from Giorgio Maniace, a Byzantine general who reconquered the city in 1038 AD for a short period defeating the Arabs and who brought as a gift two Hellenistic bronze rams, which were then placed at the entrance of the fort he had built. It is a Swabian castle which stands on the tip of the island of Ortigia, in defense of the natural harbor known as “Porto Grande” in Syracuse, designed by Riccardo Lentini between 1232 and 1240 on behalf of Frederick II.
In 1288 King Peter III of Aragon lived there with his family.
The Castle was part of a series of castles and towers scattered along the coasts of Sicily and looks like a towering structure of 51 meters per side, with its four round towers at the corners, where the characters are combined with models of the Swabian, Byzantine and Arab culture.
On the west side there is the entrance portal with a beautiful ogival arch, surmounted by the imperial coat of arms of Charles V (XVI A.D.) representing an eagle with two heads. On each side of the portal, resting on shelves, were the two bronze rams, one of which is preserved in the archaeological museum in Palermo, while the other has been lost or destroyed in 1848.
Near the west tower there is the so-called Bath of the Queen: a place about which much has been imagined. It was said that it was spacious and adorned with marble, with seats and tanks, but according to the most widely accepted interpretation it was merely a source of water supply for the castle, which uses one of Ortigia’s sources of fresh water . Today, after a long renovation, the castle has been opened to public use. In recent years, also, the beautiful Arena Maniace (the big square opposite the entrance of the castle) has become a place for shows and other cultural events.
Address: Via Castello Maniace 51, Island of Ortigia
From Tuesday to Sunday 9:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m.
The castle is being restored, so at this time you can only see it from the outside.