Ortigia

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

The fire element is linked to a historical event involving Syracuse and the most famous inventor and scientist of antiquity: Archimedes. He was born in Syracuse in 287 BC and dedicated his whole life to the research and creation of his inventions.
Archimedes’ life was influenced by his hometown, and Syracuse, in turn, was influenced by the great mathematician’s genius. In fact, many stories and legends of the city are linked to Archimedes.
It is said that in 216 BC, when Archimedes was already over seventy years old, Syracuse allied itself with the Carthaginians during the Second Punic War . For this reason it was besieged by the Roman army, commanded by Consul Marcus Claudius Marcellus.
Archimedes was already old and eager to continue his studies quietly, but his fellow citizens asked him to help them defend the city. He accepted and the Romans soon realised what the Syracusan genius was capable of.
Archimedes was attracted to the world in nature and all its elements. He was also so interested in the behaviour of light and fire that, according to legend, he created the famous burning mirrors, which the scientist used to set fire to the wood of the Roman ships.
The burning mirrors would have been hexagonal in shape and formed of a larger mirror with many small mirrors around it. The instrument was operated by ropes that pointed the middle part towards the sun. The system was so heavy and complex that at least four or six people were needed to operate it! The sun’s rays, concentrated by the mirrors into a single point, would have burned the wood of the Roman ships.

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

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

The Neapolis

Giudecca

Pantalica and water: the Myth of the Anapo River

The naumachiae: naval battles at the theatre

Ortygia

Ortygia and water. The Fountain of Arethusa

The interior of the Cathedral of Syracuse

A journey to Pantalica

Giudecca and air. The Basilica of San Giovannello

Giudecca and the earth element. Between gardens and artisan workshops

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

The fountain of Diana in Piazza Archimede

Giudecca and fire. Cooking and the Jewish religion

Nature in Neapolis

Neapolis and the air element. The Ear of Dionysius

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

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

Neapolis and the water element. The Nymphaeum

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

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

The Cathedral of Syracuse

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

Pantalica and the earth element