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Southern Tip of Ortygia Island

Temple of Apollo

Santa Lucia alla Badia Church

Crossing the Island to Ortygia

Ortygia Island Bridge


Cafe in Piazza del Duomo

Ortygia Island Street

The Island of Ortygia
From Jesse's Journeys in Italy

The Ancient City of Ortygia, first inhabited by the Greeks,   is a compact area and a pleasure to
amble around without getting
unduly tired.  It is strongly recommended to tourists from Siracusa's tourist information
centre that visitors do not bring a vehicle on to the island. 

Many of the streets are narrow and only navigable by foot.  Cars can be brought on to the island but are directed to the sea-side streets.   

Ortygia was, at one time, one the great ancient capitals of Western civilization, founded in 734 BC by Greek Colonists from Corinth.  It grew to rival and even surpass, Athens in splendour and power. 

Upon first entry to the island by way of Ortygia Island Bridge or by water taxi, a visitor arrives in the centre of Piazza Pancali.  Directly behind the piazza stand the remains of the Tempio di Apollo.  Little, of this noble Doric temple still remains today, except for some crumbled walls and scattered columns. 

From the Tempio di Apollo, it is best for visitors to proceed up the street directly to the right of the ruins.  This will take visitors along high end shops, to Piazza Archimede, which plays home to the famous Fontana di Diana, festooned with fainting sea nymphs and dancing jets of water. 

From the fountain, in under 2 minutes, it is possible to arrive at the Piazza del Duomo, considered one of Italy's most beautiful piazzas and home to Siracusa's ancient and splendid Duomo.  The piazza also boasts, Sicilian Baroque architecture which can be admired from one of several cafès which line the piazza. 

The Duomo is an archive of the island's history.  The deepest excavations have revealed that Siculi inhabitants worshipped their deities here, during the 5th C. BC, the same time as Agrigento's Temple of Concord was built), the Greeks built a temple to Athena over it, and in the 7th C. AD, Siracusa's first Christian Cathedral was built on top of the Greek structure. 

There are several other impressive buildings to see in the piazza, including: the Palazzo Beneventano del Bosco, which sits on the corner of the piazza and Santa Lucia alla Badia, which stands at the far end of the Piazza.  It is currently being restored and will most likely be a work in progress for years to come, though if you ask construction workers to let you have a peak, they will most likely say yes. 

Just around the corner from Piazza del Duomo is Palazzo Bellomo, which houses the famous Museum Bellomo, which is Siracusa's principal museum of art.  Among the paintings and sculptures is a Santa Lucia by Caravaggio (1573-1610).  

The Bellomo museum is open from Monday to Saturday from 9AM to 5PM and on Sundays from 9AM to 2PM.  It costs 4 Euros to enter. 

Walking from the Bellomo Museum or from Piazza Del Duomo, will most likely bring visitors to the ocean.  On the southern side (left of the piazza), visitors will easily locate the Alfeo Promenade, which is lined by many restaurants which cater to tourists.  Walking along this promenade will inevitably bring visitors to Castello Maniace at the southern tip of Ortygia island.  It was built by Frederick II (1194-1250) and is now an army barracks.  There are beautiful views to the sea from here. 


City of Siracusa



Don't Miss It

Be sure to wander along the Via Della Maestranza, the main lateral street of the island, or Via Veneto, on the eastern side, where you'll notice the bulbous wrought-iron balconies said to have been fashioned to accommodate ladies' billowing skirts, and facades embellished with mermaids.  These walks make for great pictures.

Things To Know

 Swimmers on the Island

Though the Island of Ortygia does offer visitors some oppotunities to swim, swimmers are generally confined to rocks and rocky beaches.  It's best to get off of the island and away from the city for a swim during the summer months.