(GERMANY OUT) Syrakus, Ortigia, Dom Santa Maria delle Colonne und Rathaus (Municipio)  (Photo by Ihlow/ullstein bild via Getty Images)

ullstein bild via Getty Images


Top choice in Syracuse

Built on the skeleton of a 5th-century BC Greek temple to Athena (note the Doric columns still visible inside and out), Syracuse's 7th-century cathedral became a church when the island was evangelised by St Paul. Its most striking feature is the columned baroque facade (1728–53) added by Andrea Palma after the 1693 earthquake. A statue of the Virgin Mary crowns the rooftop, in the same spot where a golden statue of Athena once served as a beacon to homecoming Greek sailors.

The original temple was renowned throughout the Mediterranean, in no small part thanks to Cicero, who visited Ortygia in the 1st century BC. Note the interesting baptismal font to the right as you enter; it consists of an ancient Greek krater (large vase) adorned by seven 13th-century bronze lions.

Lonely Planet's must-see attractions

Nearby Syracuse attractions

1. Palazzo Arcivescovile

0.03 MILES

The elegant, 17th-century Palazzo Arcivescovile is home to the Biblioteca Alagoniana and some rare 13th-century manuscripts.

2. Piazza del Duomo

0.04 MILES

Syracuse's showpiece square is a masterpiece of baroque town planning. A long, rectangular piazza flanked by flamboyant palazzi, it sits on what was once…

3. Artemision

0.04 MILES

Loitering beneath Palazzo Municipale are the scant remains of a 6th-century-BC Greek temple dedicated to the goddess Artemis, as well as the modest traces…

4. Palazzo Municipale

0.04 MILES

The Palazzo Municipale or Palazzo Senatoriale was built in 1629 by the Spanish architect Juan Vermexio, who was nicknamed 'Il Lucertolone' or 'the lizard'…

5. Palazzo Beneventano del Bosco

0.06 MILES

In the northwestern corner of Piazza del Duomo is the Palazzo Beneventano del Bosco. While its origins are medieval, the baroque palace you see today is…

6. Chiesa di Santa Lucia alla Badia

0.06 MILES

The Chiesa di Santa Lucia alla Badia is dedicated to the city's patron saint, St Lucy, martyred in Syracuse during the reign of the Roman emperor…

7. Palazzo Lanza-Bucceri


Syracuse's 'drawing room', Piazza Archimede is flanked by Catalan-Gothic palazzi, including Palazzo Lanza-Bucceri.

8. Fontana di Artemide

0.12 MILES

At the heart of Ortygia is handsome Piazza Archimede, home to Giulio Moschetti's Fontana di Artemide. Constructed between 1906 and 1907, the fountain's…