The Giudecca


Giudecca, in the area of Ortygia, is the district of Syracuse where the Jewish community once lived.
Today you can walk along the alleys of Giudecca and imagine past scenes of everyday Jewish life.
Vicoli GiudeccaIn the Middle Ages the streets of the district had different names: the district “del pozzo che sbruffa” (lit: of the well that spurts) was a street with a well connected to the sea which water poured out from, while the district “di li muragli” (lit: of walls) was the area where vineyards and gardens flourished. Along the alleys of this area, steeped in historical testimonies, our gaze might fall upon an open-air church with traces of the ancient synagogue or more than ten metres underground to five basins of pure water dug into an underground cave: the Mikveh, the ancient ritual bath .
The Jewish community lived in Syracuse, in Giudecca in particular, until 1492, when the sovereigns Isabella and Ferdinand II of Aragon ordered the expulsion of the Jews from all their properties, including in Sicily.
Since then, the ghettos, synagogues, cemeteries, sacred ornaments and books that once belonged to the Jewish community seem to have partly disappeared. Although it still retains its magical atmosphere, the district has given way to new buildings and other local businesses.
These include the shops and workshops linked to the Sicilian tradition of the puppet opera .
The puppeteers show off their wooden masterpieces, decorated with sparkling armour and brightly coloured plumes, in the alleys of the old Jewish quarter.

Pantalica and water: the Myth of the Anapo River

Ortygia and the earth element. Piazza del Duomo: discovering the origins.

The Cathedral of Syracuse

A journey to Pantalica

Giudecca and air. The Basilica of San Giovannello

Neapolis and the water element. The Nymphaeum

Pantalica and air. The skies of Pantalica: from hawks to bats

The fountain of Diana in Piazza Archimede


Ortygia and water. The Fountain of Arethusa

Neapolis and the earth element. Places of performance: the Greek theatre and the Roman amphitheatre

Pantalica and the earth element

The Neapolis

Giudecca and water. The ritual baths: the Casa Bianca mikveh

Pantalica and fire. The Metal Age: objects from the culture of Pantalica


The naumachiae: naval battles at the theatre

Ortygia and fire. Archimedes and the invention of the burning mirrors

Giudecca and fire. Cooking and the Jewish religion

Ortygia and the air element. The Gods of Olympus and the Temple of Apollo.

Neapolis and fire. The Altar of Hieron and the sacrificial fire

The interior of the Cathedral of Syracuse

Neapolis and the air element. The Ear of Dionysius

Giudecca and the earth element. Between gardens and artisan workshops

Nature in Neapolis