The history of Syracuse, inscribed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site for its wealth of historical, architectural and natural heritage, stretches back over a thousand years.
The city’s historical centre is positioned on the island of Ortigia, a fortress under the Spanish, which gained its present Baroque appearance from rebuilding following the earthquake of 1693. On the island of Ortigia is the iconic piazza Duomo, dominated by imposing monuments including the Duomo, the Church of Santa Lucia alla Badia, and the Senatorio, Vescovado and Beneventano palaces. The Duomo was built over the remains of the temple to Athena, whose Doric columns can still be seen in the left nave. The building dates to 7th century C.E. and was modified multiple times until the 18th century when it was restored after damage caused by the earthquake.
Another symbol of the city is the Greek Theatre: dug by the Greeks from the rocky side of the Epipolae plateau, it was built in approximately V century BCE, modified in III century BCE and again during the Roman Empire when it hosted games with wild beasts and gladiators. The cavea is extremely large and divided into nine sectors. 46 of the original 67 tiers of steps survive today.