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Travel Photos...Italy 2018
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Siracusa (Syracuse) is a most attractive destination, and is conveniently located for day trips to other sites worth visiting. It is situated in the South Eastern corner of Sicily.

It was founded 2,700 years ago by colonists from Ancient Corinth in Greece and soon became a powerful city-state. In the 5th Century BC it equalled Athens in size.

In this photo, looking towards the South, we can see Castello Maniace at the very tip of the island of Ortigia.

In this image taken from Google Earth, we can see that the island of Ortigia (Ortygia) is now connected to the Sicilian mainland by two bridges. The original Greek settlement was on that island as it could be more easily defended from attack.

Apart from some substantial Greek ruins on the mainland, most of the tourist sites are on Ortigia. The train and bus stations are on the mainland.

The map gives us some indication of the maze of streets of Ortigia zig-zagging in true Medieval style.

Right at the bottom of the island there is a fortified castle (Castello Maniace) which is still a military zone today.

In the foreground we see one of the two bridges connecting Ortigia to the mainland. Behind that, there is a luxury hotel, where I did NOT stay.

My hotel was on the mainland, close to the rail and bus stations for convenient day-tripping, but also within easy walking distance of Ortigia.

One day, I was sitting in my hotel room checking my emails when there was a very loud female voice singing just outside. How inconsiderate, I thought, thinking that it was some thoughtless person living close by.

My room was on the 1st floor and it had a small balcony. When I went onto the balcony to see who was making the racket, I saw that it was an impromptu religious proession, and the voice was singing a hymn. I rushed to get my camera.

The young kids were carrying something precious to them.
The procession headed towards this modern church on the mainland. It is the Santuario delle Madonna delle Lacrime (the Sanctuary of Our Lady of Tears).
The interior of the Sanctuary of Our Lady of Tears.
Back on the island of Ortigia, you are never far from the sea, although it is easy to get lost in the Medieval maze of narrow, twisting streets.
You are also never far from a coffee or a snack on Ortigia
These umbrellas are providing shade in the Piazza Duoma.

It is a large Piazza with the buildings on the Eastern side forming a pleasant curve, facing the Cathedral.

The Baroque facade of the Duomo of Siracusa, on the island of Ortigia. Here is a quote from Wikipedia about the history of this building:

"The origins of a temple on this site date to prehistory. The great Greek Temple of Athena was built in the 5th century BC. The temple was a Doric edifice with six columns on the short sides and 14 on the long sides. Plato and Athenaeus mention the temple, and the looting of its ornament is mentioned by Cicero, in 70 BC, as one of the crimes of the governor Verres.

Archeological site excavations by Paolo Orsi in 1907-1910 show the Greek temple to have been built on even older foundations, and uncovered a wealth of archaic and pre-Hellenic artefacts. Many are held by the Museo archeologico regionale Paolo Orsi in Syracuse.

The present cathedral was constructed by Saint Bishop Zosimo of Syracuse in the 7th century. The battered Doric columns of the original temple were incorporated in the walls of the current church. They can be seen inside and out. The building was converted into a mosque in 878, then converted back when Norman Roger I of Sicily retook the city in 1085. The roof of the nave is of Norman origin, as well as the mosaics in the apses.

As part of the increased building activity after the 1693 Sicily earthquake, the cathedral was rebuilt and the façade redesigned by architect Andrea Palma in 1725–1753. The style is classified as High Sicilian Baroque, a relatively late example. The double order of Corinthian columns on the facade provide a classic example of carved Acanthus leaves in the capitals. Sculptor Ignazio Marabitti contributed the full-length statues on the facade.

A close-up of the facade of the Cathedral.
Inside the Cathedral you can see the Doric columns of the Ancient Temple of Athena incorporated into the outer walls of the present building.
I have borrowed a couple of images from the website of Prof.Hudelson to show the ground plan of a typical Ancient Greek Temple.

In Pagan times, the "congregation" stood outside the temple, and only the Priests and Priestesses occupied the inner sanctum (or Cella/Naos).

The early persecuted Christians were used to holding their secret ceremonies in small rooms or catacombs, so it became traditional in the Roman era to have their congregations right in the heart of the inner sanctum and to be able to see the mass performed right in front of them.

Incidentally, the Greek and Russian Orthodox Christian Churches still employ a screen called the Iconostasis behind which the Priest may perform certain holy rites in private.

The Greek Temples faced East so that the sun could shine upon the Image of the Deity when the doors of the Porch were open.

Early Christian churches also faced East. This may have happened because many of the early churches were converted pagan temples, as it was far cheaper to convert an existing temple rather than build a church from scratch.

In the Nave (Naos?) of the Duomo we can see that round arches were cut into the walls of the original inner sanctum of the Temple of Athena.

The two aisles of the Cathedral were thus formed between the opened-up walls of the inner sanctum of the Temple, and the filled-in walls between the old Doric columns.

Still in the Cathedral, we see the Baroque ceiling of the Dome.
Getting lost in the maze of streets of Ortigia is a delight.

I was impressed by that sofa on the street. Was it there to give solace for weary antique travellers like me?

This lovely balcony in Ortigia caught my eye.
There seems to be a vibrant ceramics industry in Sicily.
In May it was still to chilly for a swim, but sun-worship was definitely on the list of things to do.
This was a sophisticated group of buskers in Ortigia. Grazie!
Looking South along the promenade.
Castello Maniace. It was constructed between 1232 and 1240.

It was named after the Byzantine general, George Maniakes, who captured the city from the Arabs in 1038.

This is a view of Ortigia from the East, looking towards the South, with Castello Maniace at the tip of the island.
Meanwhile, back at the Southern end of the Piazza Duomo, we see the Chiesa di Santa Lucia alla Badia.
The Nave and Apse of the Chiesa di Santa Lucia alla Badia.
A frescoe high up on the ceiling of the Nave.

Wikipedia has quite a bit to say about Santa Lucia (Saint Lucy) of Syracuse:

"Lucia of Syracuse (283–304), also known as Saint Lucy or Saint Lucia (Latin: Sancta Lucia), was a Christian martyr who died during the Diocletianic Persecution. She is venerated as a saint by the Roman Catholic, Anglican, Lutheran, and Orthodox Churches. She is one of eight women along with the Blessed Virgin Mary who are commemorated by name in the Canon of the Mass.

According to the traditional story, Lucy was born of rich and noble parents about the year 283. Her father was of Roman origin, but died when she was five years old, leaving Lucy and her mother without a protective guardian. Her mother's name Eutychia seems to indicate that she came of Greek stock.

Like many of the early martyrs, Lucy had consecrated her virginity to God, and she hoped to distribute her dowry to the poor. However, Eutychia, not knowing of Lucy's promise, and suffering from a bleeding disorder, feared for Lucy's future. She arranged Lucy's marriage to a young man of a wealthy pagan family.

Saint Agatha had been martyred fifty-two years before during the Decian persecution. Her shrine at Catania, less than fifty miles from Syracuse attracted a number of pilgrims; many miracles were reported to have happened through her intercession. Eutychia was persuaded to make a pilgrimage to Catania, in hopes of a cure. While there, St. Agatha came to Lucy in a dream and told her that because of her faith her mother would be cured and that Lucy would be the glory of Syracuse, as she was of Catania. With her mother cured, Lucy took the opportunity to persuade her mother to allow her to distribute a great part of her riches among the poor.

Eutychia suggested that the sums would make a good bequest, but Lucy countered, "...whatever you give away at death for the Lord's sake you give because you cannot take it with you. Give now to the true Savior, while you are healthy, whatever you intended to give away at your death."

News that the patrimony and jewels were being distributed came to Lucy's betrothed, who denounced her to Paschasius, the Governor of Syracuse. Paschasius ordered her to burn a sacrifice to the emperor's image. When she refused Paschasius sentenced her to be defiled in a brothel. The Christian tradition states that when the guards came to take her away, they could not move her even when they hitched her to a team of oxen. Bundles of wood were then heaped about her and set on fire, but would not burn. Finally, she met her death by the sword."

The Fountain of Diana (Fontana di Diana) is in the Piazza Archimede. The Piazza is named after Archemides, the most famous son of Syracuse.

Wikipedia has this to say about him:

"Archimedes of Syracuse (287 - 212 BC) was a Greek mathematician, physicist, engineer, inventor, and astronomer. Although few details of his life are known, he is regarded as one of the leading scientists in classical antiquity. Generally considered the greatest mathematician of antiquity and one of the greatest of all time, Archimedes anticipated modern calculus and analysis by applying concepts of infinitesimals and the method of exhaustion to derive and rigorously prove a range of geometrical theorems, including the area of a circle, the surface area and volume of a sphere, and the area under a parabola.

Other mathematical achievements include deriving an accurate approximation of pi, defining and investigating the spiral bearing his name, and creating a system using exponentiation for expressing very large numbers. He was also one of the first to apply mathematics to physical phenomena, founding hydrostatics and statics, including an explanation of the principle of the lever. He is credited with designing innovative machines, such as his screw pump, compound pulleys, and defensive war machines to protect his native Syracuse from invasion.

Archimedes died during the Siege of Syracuse when he was killed by a Roman soldier despite orders that he should not be harmed. Cicero describes visiting the tomb of Archimedes, which was surmounted by a sphere and a cylinder, which Archimedes had requested be placed on his tomb to represent his mathematical discoveries."
On the mainland, not far from Ortigia, the ruins of this Ancient Greek Theatre are in the Parco Archeologica Neapolis.
The remains of the Ancient Greek Temple of Apollo, in the Piazza Pancali. Wikipedia states:

"It is dated to the beginning of the 6th century B.C. and is therefore the most ancient Doric temple in Sicily and more or less, the first which corresponds to the model of the temple surrounded by a peripteros of stone columns that became standard in the whole Greek world."

Two Doric columns of the Temple remain. This ancient site is a fitting place to say farewell to Siracusa/Syracuse.
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