Corso Umberto I 141, Syracuse, Sicily, 96100, Italy
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Travel Tips for Siracusa
get your free map here
I searched everywhere before going to Sicily for a map for Siracusa. Guide books have tiny, pretty useless maps. Besides, I really like maps. After arriving in Siracusa, I checked all the souvenier stands. I found a tourist book with a really large, hard to read map. 4.5 euros, but I got the book, too. We had been wandering, around Siracusa for 2 days before I spotted an "I" with a circle around it. Walking into a courtyard that had businesses in it, I found one door marked "Informatione Turismo". I went in and found a perfect map--for FREE! Best map I'll bet you'll find.
I don't know what their hours are, but I know where they are. It's marked on the map. From Piazza Archimede, take Via della Maestranza, which goes to your left. On the lefthand side, after via Coronati, you will find an opening to an attractive courtyard. There it is. Good luck.
Ancient and modern
Totally dominated bythe towering peak of Syracuse's newest church (more of that in a minute) the ruin of the city's oldest church is both historically significant and very much more aesthetically pleasing.
The new church is a huge, brutal edifice of concrete, the sort of building that gives modern architecture a bad name. It was constructed in the early 1990s to house an image of the Virgin that wept for a few days in 1953 and that has become a object of veneration and pilgrimage. Its vast interior was all but deserted when we visited and the little Madonna seemed rather lost in the emptiness under the soaring tear-drop-inspired roof.
Across the road, the Basilica di San Giovanni Evangelista (St John the Evangelist) stands roofless, its nave with the orginal Byzantine altar still in situ, open to the sky. There's no glass in the pretty rose window and trees are growing inside the walls. A newer church has been built next door but the old one is still consecrated and is used on special days. A crypt beneath the church was the burial place of Saint Marcian, Syracuse's first Christian bishop who was martyred here in 254 AD.
It was the custom to build a shrine over the burial place of a saint and the first church was undoubtedly built here soon after Christianity became the official religion of Rome in the 4th century. That church was destroyed by the Arab invaders but was rebuilt by the Normans who replaced them as the island's rulers. It then served as the city's cathedral until it was destroyed again by the earthquake of 1693. This time, it was not rebuilt.
You'll need to join a tour of the catacombs if you want to see inside but if time (or inclination) doesn't allow for this, do at least go and have a look at the outside. It is a lovely building, and very photogenic. It's a pity about the grafitti (something that, on the whole, we didn't see as much of as we'd expected in Sicily) but with its arches, carved capitals and 14th century portal, old stones and skeletal roofline, it is most appealing.
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We've found that other people looking for this hotel also know it by these names:
- Centrale Siracusa Hotel
Address: Corso Umberto I 141, Syracuse, Sicily, 96100, Italy