Syracuse and Ortygia Island
Syracuse and Ortygia Island› Attraction
Our Rating Hours Daily 8am–noon and 4–7pm Phone 389/550-3267 Prices 2€
Don’t be deceived by the frothy baroque look of Siracusa’s main church—its roots are much more ancient than that playful exterior suggests. The two tiers of Doric columns that define the facade were once part of the 5th-century-b.c. Temple of Athena, one of the best-known sights of the ancient world, built to mark a Greek victory over the Carthaginians. Cicero, the Roman orator and traveler, reported that the temple was filled with gold, the doors were made of gold and ivory, and a statue of Athena atop the pediment was visible for miles out to sea. Romans made off with much of the gold, alas, and 9th-century Arab marauders took the rest. The church was first fashioned from the temple around the 7th century; a statue of the Virgin now stands atop the pediment as Athena once did. Other ancient columns line the aisle in the church’s strikingly simple interior, while a silver statue in a side chapel protects an important Christian relic—an arm of Santa Lucia, Siracusa’s patron saint.
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