Hotel Sorella Luna

Via Francesco Crispi 23, Syracuse, Sicily, 96100, Italy
B&B Sorella Luna
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More about Siracusa


Inside the Ear of DionysusInside the Ear of Dionysus

A glimpse of  waterA glimpse of water

View toward the Sanctuary (Mainland)View toward the Sanctuary (Mainland)

the churchthe church

Travel Tips for Siracusa

Built for Athena

by TheWanderingCamel

No building in Syracuse tells us more about the city's history than the Duomo. Standing on ground that has been held sacred since the earliest days of settlement, it saw pagan Greeks, Roman and Byzantine Christians and Muslim Arabs pass through in a thousand year-long parade of worshippers and supplicants before it began to take on its current form as a Catholic cathedral.

Stepping up to its ornate Bararoque entrance and passing through the grand Spanish portico, all carved marble and Christian symbolism, it gives little away of its Greek origins. Once inside however, it's a different story. Ten massive Doric march down the left nave of the cathedral, supporting the roof and framing the side chapels of the cathedral. What was once a temple to the goddess Athena is now a church dedicated to the Virgin Mary.

Built in the 5th century BC, Athena's temple was not the first on the site however, it replaced an earlier temple that was built here in the 7th century BC and it's more than likely that there was an even older temple to a local deity of the original inhabitants - the Siculo tribes - before that. Fabled across the Mediterranean for its splendour, the temple was to remain a centre of pagan belief for some 1200 years until it was converted to a Christian basilica in about 640 AD.

13 centuries later the cathedral's history is written in stone and marble for all to see. The floors and northern apse are Byzantine as is the masonry filling the gaps between the Greek columns. Nothing remains to tell of the Islamic years but the Normans left their mark in the massive stucture of the inner aisles though only a few scraps of the mosaics they used to decorate the apse survive. The earthquake of 1693 did huge damage and brought about the Baroque rebuilding that saw the cathedral assume most of the interior we see today - elaborate chapels, the magnificent silver altars, the frescoes and wrought iron chapel gates and - most spectacular of all - the grand facade and portico.

As with so many of the buildings here in Ortygia, scaffolding hides the exterior side walls so you can't see the columns from the outside at present.


by shiran_d


Located near the southeastern corner of Sicily on the Ionian coast, Siracusa (Syracuse) is built on an ancient Greek settlement founded by Corinthians in 734 BC. More than any other modern city in Sicily, Syracuse manifests a visible continuity from its ancient Greek past, both historical and mythological. Its older quarter is an island, Ortegia (or Ortygia, from the Greek for "quail," probably named for that bird's abundance in this area). Ortegia is known for, among many other things, the freshwater Spring of Arethusa. When Artemis changed Arethusa into a spring of water to escape the river god Alpheus, it was here that the transformed maiden emerged. On a more factual note, Syracuse was the city of Archimedes, Pindar and Aeschylus. It was the most important city in Magna Graecia, and for a time rivaled Athens as the most important city of the Greek world.


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