Island of Ortigia Syracuse in Sicily

History of the Island of Ortigia Syracuse

The first houses date back to the fourteenth century a.c., found on the island of Ortigia, where were discovered traces of human presence (remains of circular huts).
But the first news we have of Syracuse are the VIII° century a.c. when the city was re-founded by the Corinthians lead by Archia (734 a.c.).
The island of Ortigia was the first populated area of Syracuse.
The city, later, it developed so that, 70 years later, werefounded colonies Akrai, Casmene and Camarina.
Of this historical period it has not been any testimony, only with the tyranny of Gelone (beginning of the V° century a.c.) you have some historical information.

Herodotus tells that the Cilliri, submissive indigenous, living in a miserable condition of servitude governed by Gamoroi (ga = earth), probable important landowners descendants by Corinthian colonies.
The Cilliri tried to rebel succeeding to send away the Gamoroi from the city.
The Gamoroi asked, then, help Gelone, tyrant of Gela, who in 485 a.c. he occupied Syracuse.
In 480 a.c. Gelone, together with the father in law Terone of Agrigento, defeated the Carthaginians led by Amilcare in Imera, the same day on which, according to Herodotus, was defeated army of Serse at Salamina.

A Gelone succeeded by his brother Gerone, of which we remember the battle of Cuma (474 a.c.), in which he defeated the Etruscans, and the great interest in the arts; he surrounded himself with the most famous men of his time: Pindaro, Eschilo, Simonide, Bacchilide, Sofrone, Epicarmo.
Who died in 466, he was succeeded by his brother Thrasibulo, who was immediately expelled by the citizens for his cruelty; the expulsion from the city of this tyrant was later celebrated in festivals that are were held every year in the Ara of Ierone II, dedicated to Zeus Eleutherios.
In 427 Syracuse assaulted Lentini, who was forced to ask for help to the Athenians, so the first war broke out “Athenian”, but rescuers were defeated with serious damage to Lentini and Sicilian Ionian cities, which had participated in the war.
Subsequently Athens wanted return in Sicily, beginning a second war that was more destructive than the first.

In 415 a fleet sailed from Greece with 134 triremes, more than 5.000 hoplites, 30 transport ships and 100 trade ships with all 35.000 men, led by Alcibiades Command, Lamachus and Nicias.
In the war between Athens and Syracuse, supported by Corinto and Sparta, the Athenian army it suffered a humiliating defeat on the shores of the river Asinaro (413 a.c.).
The Athenians survivors were taken prisoner and brought in the quarries of Syracuse Latomie.
After the defeat Athens renounced forever to its expansionist ambitions in the Mediterranean, it was then that the Carthaginians tried to take advantage of this situation to resume their conquests in Sicily.
Led by Annibale, they managed to destroy, after eight months of siege, Agrigento (406 a.c.).

Syracuse, headed by the still young Dionigi, signed a peace treaty with Cartagine with the intent to have more time to reorganize their armed forces; Dionigi did so to build high and strong walls to defend the city, the Eurialo Castle, and she potentiated the fleet.
During the long reign of Dionigi, called Il Vecchio, Syracuse reached its greatest territorial extension; his death was succeeded by his son who, not having the same qualities of his father, shortly after he lost the throne in favor of Timoleonte.
The period of government of these was happy for the city, so that his death the Syracusans people erected a monumental tomb in Acradina (Timoleonteon). He was replaced by Agatocle,
man without scruples and violent, who died in 289 a.c.
At his death Syracuse asked for help from Pirro (278) to counter menaces Carthaginians; but shortly after he had to return to Taranto where his troops were engaged against the Romans.
In this period Ierone II took power and expelled the Mamertines from the city of Syracuse, he agreed a separate peace with the Romans; Syracuse enjoyed a period of peace along 50 years.

In 212 a.C., the Romans led by the consul Marcello conquered the city, that so lost all its importance and power.
In the III or IV century d.c., it was built in Neapolis, the Amphitheatre. Syracuse remain, the island’s capital governed by a Roman Pretore, until 476 d.c .

Many and various rules we have been in Sicily.
From 663 to 668 the Byzantine Emperor Constante II declared the capital of the East Syracuse and at the same time the bishop Zosimo moved the Cathedral in the ancient temple of Athena in Ortigia.
The Normans in the XI century, they rediscovered the city.
Frederico II of the Svezia in the XIII century fortified the city with the construction of the Castello Maniace in Ortigia.
The emperor Carlo V in the XVI century expanded the fortifications and Syracuse in 1678 was declared a military Piazzaforte.
In 1693 a violent earthquake destroyed, among other cities from the south-east Sicily, including Syracuse which was rebuilt with Baroque style buildings.
After the unification of Italy (1860) were demolished Spanish walls and it realized the District Umbertino on the mainland.
In 1934 it was opened in Ortigia the way of Littorio (now called Corso Matteotti) destroying a historical medieval area.

  • Siracusa - Ponte Umbertino
  • Siracusa - Ortigia
  • Siracusa - Fontana Aretusa
  • Siracusa - Cattedrale