The city of Syracuse was founded in 734 BC by the Corinthians from Greece. Led by Archias of Corinth, they settled in the area of Ortygia, the island that today forms the city’s historic centre.
Syracuse was the most beautiful and the largest city in the Greek colonies. It was a splendid sight from whichever point you arrived. Those arriving from the north, along a road full of monuments, would pass through a gigantic gateway with six entrances called Esapilo; while those arriving from the south skirted the immense Temple of Olympian Zeus, which watched over the city like a protector.
But nothing was more beautiful than reaching Syracuse from the sea: this was the most exciting perspective, which all travellers found breathtaking. From the sea, sailors could see the port of Syracuse and the light of the great golden shield that decorated the pediment of the Greek temple of Athena in the centre of Ortygia.
A stretch of freshwater, the Fountain of Arethusa rose near the sea, while fire burned in the sacred enclosure around the majestic temples of Ortygia, where the ancient Greeks made sacrifices to the gods and worshipped the gods of Olympus.
In this peaceful and prosperous climate, the mathematician Archimedes devoted himself to his studies, discoveries and inventions including the lever, buoyancy, pi (π) and of course, the burning mirrors and war machines. He also cultivated his main interests of geometry and astronomy.