|Comune di Siracusa|
|• Mayor||Francesco Italia|
|• Total||207.78 km2 (80.22 sq mi)|
|Elevation||17 m (56 ft)|
|Demonym(s)||Syracusan, Syracusian (en)|
|Time zone||UTC+1 (CET)|
|• Summer (DST)||UTC+2 (CEST)|
|Patron saint||Saint Lucy|
|Saint day||13 December|
Syracuseis a historic city on the Italian island of Sicily, the capital of the Italian province of Syracuse. The city is notable for its rich Greek and Roman history, culture, amphitheatres, architecture, and as the birthplace of the preeminent mathematician and engineer Archimedes. This 2,700-year-old city played a key role in ancient times, when it was one of the major powers of the Mediterranean world. Syracuse is located in the southeast corner of the island of Sicily, next to the Gulf of Syracuse beside the Ionian Sea.
The city was founded by Ancient Greek Corinthians and Teneansand became a very powerful city-state. Syracuse was allied with Sparta and Corinth and exerted influence over the entirety of Magna Graecia, of which it was the most important city. Described by Cicero as "the greatest Greek city and the most beautiful of them all", it equaled Athens in size during the fifth century BC. It later became part of the Roman Republic and the Byzantine Empire. Under Emperor Constans II, it served as the capital of the Byzantine Empire (663–669). Palermo later overtook it in importance, as the capital of the Kingdom of Sicily. Eventually the kingdom would be united with the Kingdom of Naples to form the Two Sicilies until the Italian unification of 1860.
In the modern day, the city is listed by UNESCO as a World Heritage Site along with the Necropolis of Pantalica. In the central area, the city itself has a population of around 125,000 people. Syracuse is mentioned in the Bible in the Acts of the Apostles book at 28:12 as Paul stayed there.The patron saint of the city is Saint Lucy; she was born in Syracuse and her feast day, Saint Lucy's Day, is celebrated on 13 December.
Syracuse and its surrounding area have been inhabited since ancient times, as shown by the findings in the villages of Stentinello, Ognina, Plemmirio, Matrensa, Cozzo Pantano and Thapsos, which already had a relationship with Mycenaean Greece.
Syracuse was founded in 734 or 733 BC by Greek settlers from Corinth and Tenea, led by the oecist (colonizer) Archias. There are many attested variants of the name of the city including ΣυράκουσαιSyrakousai, ΣυράκοσαιSyrakosai and ΣυρακώSyrakō. A possible origin of the city's name was given by Vibius Sequester citing first Stephanus Byzantius in that there was a Syracusian marsh (λίμνη) called Syrako and secondly Marcian's Periegesis wherein Archias gave the city the name of a nearby marsh; hence one gets Syrako (and thereby Syrakousai and other variants) for the name of Syracuse, a name also attested by Epicharmus. The settlement of Syracuse was a planned event, as a strong central leader, Arkhias the aristocrat, laid out how property would be divided up for the settlers, as well as plans for how the streets of the settlement should be arranged, and how wide they should be. The nucleus of the ancient city was the small island of Ortygia. The settlers found the land fertile and the native tribes to be reasonably well-disposed to their presence. The city grew and prospered, and for some time stood as the most powerful Greek city anywhere in the Mediterranean. Colonies were founded at Akrai (664 BC), Kasmenai (643 BC), Akrillai (7th century BC), Helorus (7th century BC) and Kamarina (598 BC).
The descendants of the first colonists, called Gamoroi, held power until they were expelled by the Killichiroi, the lower class of the city. The former, however, returned to power in 485 BC, thanks to the help of Gelo, ruler of Gela. Gelo himself became the despot of the city, and moved many inhabitants of Gela, Kamarina and Megara to Syracuse, building the new quarters of Tyche and Neapolis outside the walls. His program of new constructions included a new theatre, designed by Damocopos, which gave the city a flourishing cultural life: this in turn attracted personalities as Aeschylus, Ario of Methymna and Eumelos of Corinth. The enlarged power of Syracuse made unavoidable the clash against the Carthaginians, who ruled western Sicily. In the Battle of Himera, Gelo, who had allied with Theron of Agrigento, decisively defeated the African force led by Hamilcar. A temple dedicated to Athena (on the site of today's Cathedral), was erected in the city to commemorate the event.
Syracuse grew considerably during this time. Its walls encircled 120 hectares (300 acres) in the fifth century, but as early as the 470s BC the inhabitants started building outside the walls. The complete population of its territory approximately numbered 250,000 in 415 BC and the population size of the city itself was probably similar to Athens.
Gelo was succeeded by his brother Hiero, who fought against the Etruscans at Cumae in 474 BC. His rule was eulogized by poets like Simonides of Ceos, Bacchylides and Pindar, who visited his court. A democratic regime was introduced by Thrasybulos (467 BC). The city continued to expand in Sicily, fighting against the rebellious Siculi, and on the Tyrrhenian Sea, making expeditions up to Corsica and Elba. In the late 5th century BC, Syracuse found itself at war with Athens, which sought more resources to fight the Peloponnesian War. The Syracusans enlisted the aid of a general from Sparta, Athens' foe in the war, to defeat the Athenians, destroy their ships, and leave them to starve on the island (see Sicilian Expedition). In 401 BC, Syracuse contributed a force of 300 hoplites and a general to Cyrus the Younger's Army of the Ten Thousand.
Then in the early 4th century BC, the tyrant Dionysius the Elder was again at war against Carthage and, although losing Gela and Camarina, kept that power from capturing the whole of Sicily. After the end of the conflict Dionysius built a massive fortress on Ortygia and 22 km-long walls around all of Syracuse. Another period of expansion saw the destruction of Naxos, Catania and Lentini; then Syracuse entered again in war against Carthage (397 BC). After various changes of fortune, the Carthaginians managed to besiege Syracuse itself, but were eventually pushed back by a pestilence. A treaty in 392 BC allowed Syracuse to enlarge further its possessions, founding the cities of Adranon, Tyndarion and Tauromenos, and conquering Rhegion on the continent. In the Adriatic, to facilitate trade, Dionysius the Elder founded Ancona, Adria and Issa. Apart from his battle deeds, Dionysius was famous as a patron of art, and Plato himself visited Syracuse several times, where Dionysius, offended by Plato's daring to disagree with the king, imprisoned the philosopher and sold him into slavery.
His successor was Dionysius the Younger, who was however expelled by Dion in 356 BC. But the latter's despotic rule led in turn to his expulsion, and Dionysius reclaimed his throne in 347 BC. Dionysius was besieged in Syracuse by the Syracusan general Hicetas in 344 BC. The following year the Corinthian Timoleon installed a democratic regime in the city after he exiled Dionysius and defeated Hicetas. The long series of internal struggles had weakened Syracuse's power on the island, and Timoleon tried to remedy this, defeating the Carthaginians in the Battle of the Crimissus (339 BC).
After Timoleon's death the struggle among the city's parties restarted and ended with the rise of another tyrant, Agathocles, who seized power with a coup in 317 BC. He resumed the war against Carthage, with alternate fortunes. He was besieged in Syracuse by the Carthaginians in 311 BC, but he escaped from the city with a small fleet. He scored a moral success, bringing the war to the Carthaginians' native African soil, inflicting heavy losses to the enemy. The defenders of Syracuse destroyed the Carthaginian army which besieged them. However, Agathocles was eventually defeated in Africa as well. The war ended with another treaty of peace which did not prevent the Carthaginians from interfering in the politics of Syracuse after the death of Agathocles (289 BC). They laid siege to Syracuse for the fourth and last time in 278 BC. They retreated at the arrival of king Pyrrhus of Epirus, whom Syracuse had asked for help. After a brief period under the rule of Epirus, Hiero II seized power in 275 BC.
Hiero inaugurated a period of 50 years of peace and prosperity, in which Syracuse became one of the most renowned capitals of Antiquity. He issued the so-called Lex Hieronica , which was later adopted by the Romans for their administration of Sicily; he also had the theatre enlarged and a new immense altar, the "Hiero's Ara", built. Under his rule lived the most famous Syracusan, the mathematician and natural philosopher Archimedes. Among his many inventions were various military engines including the claw of Archimedes, later used to resist the Roman siege of 214–212 BC. Literary figures included Theocritus and others.
Hiero's successor, the young Hieronymus (ruled from 215 BC), broke the alliance with the Romans after their defeat at the Battle of Cannae and accepted Carthage's support. The Romans, led by consul Marcus Claudius Marcellus, besieged the city in 214 BC. The city held out for three years, but fell in 212 BC. The successes of the Syracusians in repelling the Roman siege had made them overconfident. In 212 BC, the Romans received information that the city's inhabitants were to participate in the annual festival to their goddess Artemis. A small party of Roman soldiers approached the city under the cover of night and managed to scale the walls to get into the outer city and with reinforcements soon took control, killing Archimedes in the process, but the main fortress remained firm. After an eight-month siege and with parleys in progress, an Iberian captain named Moeriscus is believed to have let the Romans in near the Fountains of Arethusa. On the agreed signal, during a diversionary attack, he opened the gate. After setting guards on the houses of the pro-Roman faction, Marcellus gave Syracuse to plunder.
Though declining slowly through the years, Syracuse maintained the status of capital of the Roman government of Sicily and seat of the praetor. It remained an important port for trade between the Eastern and the Western parts of the Empire. Christianity spread in the city through the efforts of Paul of Tarsus and Saint Marziano, the first bishop of the city, who made it one of the main centres of proselytism in the West. In the age of Christian persecutions massive catacombs were carved, whose size is second only to those of Rome.
After a period of Vandal rule, 469–477, Syracuse and the island was recovered for Roman rule under Odoacer, 476–491 and Theodoric the Great, 491–526, by Belisarius for the Byzantine Empire (31 December 535).From 663 to 668 Syracuse was the seat of the Greek-speaking Emperor Constans II, as well as a capital of the Byzantine (Eastern Roman) Empire and metropolis of the whole Sicilian Church. Constans II was assassinated when his plans to permanently replace the Byzantine capital of Constantinople with Syracuse became suspected.
The city was besieged by the Aghlabids for almost a year in 827–828, but Byzantine reinforcements prevented its fall. It remained the center of Byzantine resistance to the gradual Muslim conquest of Sicily until it fell to the Aghlabids after another siege on 20/21 May 878. During the two centuries of Muslim rule, the capital of the Emirate of Sicily was moved from Syracuse to Palermo. The cathedral was converted into a mosque and the quarter on the Ortygia island was gradually rebuilt along Islamic styles. The city, nevertheless, maintained important trade relationships, and housed a relatively flourishing cultural and artistic life: several Arab poets, including Ibn Hamdis, the most important Sicilian Arab poet of the 12th century, flourished in the city.
In 1038, the Byzantine general George Maniakes reconquered the city, sending the relics of St. Lucy to Constantinople. The eponymous castle on the cape of Ortygia bears his name, although it was built under the Hohenstaufen rule. In 1085 the Normans entered Syracuse, one of the last Arab strongholds, after a summer-long siege by Roger I of Sicily and his son Jordan of Hauteville, who was given the city as count. New quarters were built, and the cathedral was restored, as well as other churches.
In 1194, Emperor Henry VI occupied the Sicilian kingdom, including Syracuse. After a short period of Genoese rule (1205–1220) under the notorious admiral and pirate Alamanno da Costa, which favoured a rise of trades, royal authority was re-asserted in the city by Frederick II. He began the construction of the Castello Maniace, the Bishops' Palace and the Bellomo Palace. Frederick's death brought a period of unrest and feudal anarchy. In the War of the Sicilian Vespers between the Angevin and Aragonese dynasties for control of Sicily, Syracuse sided with the Aragonese and expelled the Angevins in 1298, receiving from the Spanish sovereigns great privileges in reward. The preeminence of baronial families is also shown by the construction of the palaces of Abela, Chiaramonte, Nava, Montalto .
The city was struck by two ruinous earthquakes in 1542 and 1693, and a plague in 1729. The 17th century destruction changed the appearance of Syracuse forever, as well as the entire Val di Noto, whose cities were rebuilt along the typical lines of Sicilian Baroque, considered one of the most typical expressions of the architecture of Southern Italy. The spread of cholera in 1837 led to a revolt against the Bourbon government. The punishment was the move of the province capital seat to Noto, but the unrest had not been totally choked, as the Siracusani took part in the Sicilian revolution of 1848.
After the Unification of Italy of 1865, Syracuse regained its status of provincial capital. In 1870 the walls were demolished and a bridge connecting the mainland to Ortygia island was built. In the following year a railway link was constructed.
Both Allied and German bombings in 1943 caused heavy destruction during World War II. Operation Husky, the codename for the Allied invasion of Sicily, was launched on the night between 9–10 July 1943 with British forces attacking the southeast of the island. The plan was for the British 5th Infantry Division, part of General Sir Bernard Montgomery's Eighth Army to capture Syracuse on the first day of the invasion. This part of the operation went completely according to plan, and British forces captured Syracuse on the first night of the operation.The port was then used as a base for the British Royal Navy. To the west of the city is a Commonwealth War Graves cemetery where about 1,000 men are buried. After the end of the war the northern quarters of Syracuse experienced a heavy, often chaotic, expansion, favoured by the quick process of industrialization.
Syracuse today has about 125,000 inhabitants and numerous attractions for the visitor interested in historical sites (such as the Ear of Dionysius). A process of recovering and restoring the historical centre has been ongoing since the 1990s. Nearby places of note include Catania, Noto, Modica and Ragusa.
Syracuse experiences a hot-summer Mediterranean climate (Köppen climate classification Csa) with mild, wet winters and warm to hot, dry summers. Snow is infrequent; the last heavy snowfall in the city occurred in December 2014. °C.Frosts are very rare, with the last one also happening in December 2014 when the temperature dropped to the all-time record low of 0
|Climate data for Syracuse|
|Record high °C (°F)||18.6|
|Average high °C (°F)||14.8|
|Daily mean °C (°F)||11.1|
|Average low °C (°F)||7.3|
|Record low °C (°F)||3.0|
|Average precipitation mm (inches)||75|
|Average precipitation days||9||7||6||4||3||1||1||1||4||7||8||9||60|
|Average ultraviolet index||2||3||5||7||8||9||10||9||7||5||3||2||6|
|Source: Archivio climatico Enea-Casaccia and Weather Atlas|
In 2016, there were 122,051people residing in Syracuse, located in the province of Syracuse, Sicily, of whom 48.7% were male and 51.3% were female. Minors (children ages 18 and younger) totalled 18.9 percent of the population compared to pensioners who number 16.9 percent. This compares with the Italian average of 18.1 percent (minors) and 19.9 percent (pensioners). The average age of Syracuse resident is 40 compared to the Italian average of 42. In the five years between 2002 and 2007, the population of Syracuse declined by 0.5 percent, while Italy as a whole grew by 3.6 percent. The reason for decline is a population flight to the suburbs, and northern Italy. The current birth rate of Syracuse is 9.75 births per 1,000 inhabitants compared to the Italian average of 9.45 births.
As of 2006 [update] , 97.9% of the population was of Italian descent. The largest immigrant group came from other European nations (particularly those from Poland, and the United Kingdom): 0.6%, North Africa (mostly Tunisian): 0.5%, and South Asia: 0.4%.
|UNESCO World Heritage Site|
|Criteria||Cultural: ii, iii, iv, vi|
|Inscription||2005 (29th session)|
|Buffer zone||5,519.4 ha|
Since 2005, the entire city of Syracuse, along with the Necropolis of Pantalica which falls within the province of Syracuse, were listed as a World Heritage Site by UNESCO. This programme aims to catalogue, name and conserve sites of outstanding cultural or natural importance to the common heritage of humanity. The deciding committee which evaluates potential candidates described their reasons for choosing Syracuse because "monuments and archeological sites situated in Syracuse are the finest example of outstanding architectural creation spanning several cultural aspects; Greek, Roman and Baroque", following on that Ancient Syracuse was "directly linked to events, ideas and literary works of outstanding universal significance".
Syracuse is home to association football club A.S.D. Città di Siracusa, the latest reincarnation of several clubs dating back to 1924. The common feature is the azure shirts, hence the nickname Azzurri. Siracusa play at the Stadio Nicola De Simone with an approximate capacity between 5,000 and 6,000.
Hiero II was the Greek tyrant of Syracuse from 270 to 215 BC, and the illegitimate son of a Syracusan noble, Hierocles, who claimed descent from Gelon. He was a former general of Pyrrhus of Epirus and an important figure of the First Punic War.
Timoleon, son of Timodemus, of Corinth was a Greek statesman and general.
Gela, is a city and comune in the Autonomous Region of Sicily, Italy; in terms of area and population, it is the largest comune on Sicily's southern coast. Gela is part of Caltanissetta province and is the only comune in Italy with a population and area that exceed those of the province's capital.
The Mamertines were mercenaries of Italian origin who had been hired from their home in Campania by Agathocles, Tyrant of Syracuse and self-proclaimed King of Sicily. After Syracuse lost the Seventh Sicilian War, the city of Messana was ceded to Carthage in 307 BC. When Agathocles died in 289 BC he left many of his mercenaries idle and unemployed in Sicily. Most of them returned home but some, liking the climate and the prospect of adventure on a foreign island, remained. They played a major role in the lead up to the First Punic War.
Palazzolo Acreide is a town and comune in the Province of Syracuse, Sicily. It is 43 kilometres (27 mi) from the city of Syracuse in the Hyblean Mountains.
The siege of Syracuse by the Roman Republic took place in 213–212 BC. The Romans successfully stormed the Hellenistic city of Syracuse after a protracted siege, giving them control of the entire island of Sicily. During the siege, the city was protected by weapons developed by Archimedes. Archimedes, the great inventor and polymath, was slain at the conclusion of the siege by a Roman soldier, in contravention of the Roman proconsul Marcellus' instructions to spare his life.
Sicilia was the first province acquired by the Roman Republic. The western part of the island was brought under Roman control in 241 BC at the conclusion of the First Punic War with Carthage. A praetor was regularly assigned to the island from c.227 BC. The Kingdom of Syracuse under Hieron II remained an independent ally of Rome until its defeat in 212 BC during the Second Punic War. Thereafter the province included the whole of the island of Sicily, the island of Malta, and the smaller island groups.
The siege of Syracuse in 397 BC was the first of four unsuccessful sieges Carthaginian forces would undertake against Syracuse from 397 to 278 BC. In retaliation to the siege of Motya by Dionysius of Syracuse, Himilco of the Magonid family of Carthage led a substantial force to Sicily. After retaking Motya and founding Lilybaeum, Himilco sacked Messana, then laid siege to Syracuse in the autumn of 397 BC after the Greek navy was crushed at Catana.
The history of Sicily has been influenced by numerous ethnic groups. It has seen Sicily controlled by external powers – Phoenician and Carthaginian, Greek, Roman, Vandal and Ostrogoth, Byzantine Greek, Aghlabid, Kalbid, Norman, Aragonese and Spanish – but also experiencing important periods of independence, as under the indigenous Sicanians, Elymians and Sicels, and later as the Emirate of Sicily, County of Sicily, and Kingdom of Sicily. The Kingdom was founded in 1130 by Roger II, belonging to the Siculo-Norman family of Hauteville. During this period, Sicily was prosperous and politically powerful, becoming one of the wealthiest states in all of Europe. As a result of the dynastic succession, then, the Kingdom passed into the hands of the Hohenstaufen. At the end of the 13th century, with the War of the Sicilian Vespers between the crowns of Anjou and Aragon, the island passed to the latter. In the following centuries the Kingdom entered into the personal union with the Spaniard and Bourbon crowns, preserving however its substantial independence until 1816. Although today an Autonomous Region of the Republic of Italy, it has its own distinct culture.
The Sicilian Wars, or Greco-Punic Wars, were a series of conflicts fought between ancient Carthage and the Greek city-states led by Syracuse, Sicily over control of Sicily and the western Mediterranean between 580–265 BC.
The Battle of Gela took place in the summer of 405 BC in Sicily. The Carthaginian army under Himilco, which had spent the winter and spring in the captured city of Akragas, marched to confront the Greeks at Gela. The Syracuse government had deposed Daphnaeus, the unsuccessful general of the Greek army at Akragas, with Dionysius, another officer who had been a follower of Hermocrates. Dionysius schemed and gained full dictatorial powers. When the Carthaginians advanced on Gela and put the town under siege, Dionysius marched from Syracuse to confront the threat. He planned to use a complex three-pronged attack plan against the Carthaginians, which failed due to lack of proper coordination. Dionysius chose to evacuate Gela, as the defeat caused discontent in Syracuse and he did not wish to lose his power. Himilco sacked the abandoned city after the Greeks had fled to Camarina.
The siege of Motya took place either in 398 or 397 BC in western Sicily. Dionysius, after securing peace with Carthage in 405 BC, had steadily increased his military power and had tightened his grip on Syracuse. He had fortified Syracuse against sieges and had created a large army of mercenaries and a large fleet, in addition to employing the catapult and quinqueremes for the first time in history. In 398 BC, he attacked and sacked the Phoenician city of Motya despite the Carthaginian relief effort led by Himilco. Carthage also lost most of her territorial gains secured in 405 BC after Dionysius declared war on Carthage in 398 BC.
Cefalù, the classical Cephaloedium (Κεφαλοίδιον), is a city and comune in the Italian Metropolitan City of Palermo, located on the Tyrrhenian coast of Sicily about 70 km (43 mi) east of the provincial capital and 185 km (115 mi) west of Messina. The town, with its population of just under 14,000, is one of the major tourist attractions in the region. Despite its size, every year it attracts millions of tourists from all parts of Sicily and also, from all over Italy and Europe.
The Battle of Chrysas was a battle fought in 392 BC in the course of the Sicilian Wars, between the Carthaginian army under Mago and a Greek army under Dionysius I, tyrant of Syracuse, who was aided by Agyris, tyrant of the Sicel city of Agyrium. Mago had been defeated by Dionysius at Abacaenum in 393, which had not damaged the Carthaginian position in Sicily. Reinforced by Carthage in 392, Mago moved to attack the Sicles allied with Syracuse in central Sicily. After the Carthaginians reached and encamped near the river Chrysas, the Sicels harassed the Carthaginian supply lines causing a supply shortage, while the Greek soldiers rebelled and deserted Dionysius when he refused to fight a pitched battle. Both Mago and Dionysius agreed to a peace treaty, which allowed the Carthaginians to formally occupy the area west of the River Halycus, while Dionysius was given lordship over the Sicel lands. The peace would last until 383, when Dionysius attacked the Carthaginians again.
The Siege of Tauromenium was laid down by Dionysius, tyrant of Syracuse, in the winter of 394 BC, in the course of the Sicilian Wars against Carthage. After defeating the Carthaginians at the Battle of Syracuse in 397 BC, Dionysius had been expanding his territory and political influence by conquering Sicel lands and planting Greek colonies in northeastern Sicily. Tauromenium was a Sicel city allied to Carthage and in a position to threaten both Syracuse and Messina. Dionysius laid siege to the city in the winter of 394 BC, but had to lift the siege after his night assault was defeated. Carthage responded to this attack on their allies by renewing the war, which was ended by a peace treaty in 392 BC that granted Dionysius overlordship of the Sicels, while Carthage retained all territory west of the Halykos and Himera rivers in Sicily.
Himilco was a member of the Magonids, a Carthaginian family of hereditary generals, and had command over the Carthaginian forces between 406 BC and 397 BC. He is chiefly known for his war in Sicily against Dionysius I of Syracuse.
The Sack of Camarina in Sicily took place in 405 BC as part of the Sicilian Wars.
The siege of Syracuse from 344 to 343/342 BC was part of a war between the Syracusan general Hicetas and the tyrant of Syracuse, Dionysius II. The conflict became more complex when Carthage and Corinth became involved. The Carthaginians had made an alliance with Hicetas to expand their power in Sicily. Somewhat later the Corinthian general Timoleon arrived in Sicily to restore democracy to Syracuse. With the assistance of several other Sicilian Greek cities, Timoleon emerged victorious and reinstated a democratic regime in Syracuse. The siege is described by the ancient historians Diodorus Siculus and Plutarch, but there are important differences in their accounts.
The following is a timeline of the history of the city of Syracuse, Sicily, Italy. Syracuse was the main city of Sicily from 5th century BCE to 878 CE.
The History of Greek and Hellenistic Sicily began with the foundation of the first colonies around the mid 8th century BC. The Greeks of Sicily were known as Siceliotes. Attempts were made to put the whole island under Greek rule, but these definitively ended around 276 BC with the departure of Pyrrhus of Epirus, who had managed to conquer the whole island except Carthaginian Lilybaeum. Shortly after this date the island fell into the hands of the Romans.
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