Ortigia

The Athenaion of the tyrant Gelon

The Athenaion, or temple of Athena, now incorporated into the Cathedral, was erected at the behest of the tyrant Gelon with a dual purpose: on the one hand, to enrich the city with majestic monuments, and on the other, to celebrate the victory by the Greeks over the Carthaginians during the battle of Himera in 480 BC.
The Athenaion building, in the extreme rationality and austerity of its design, constituted a sort of normative model of Greek architecture for the monumental creations of early classicism in Sicily.
The building, of Doric order, was surrounded by a colonnade with six columns on the short sides and fourteen on the long sides. Honey-coloured limestone from the local quarries was paired with precious and exquisite marble from Paros, from the Cyclades islands, used only in some parts, such as the cymatium moulding , the tiles and the lion-head rain gutter channels, stylistically similar to the limestone ones on the Temple of Victory in Himera.
A literary testimony of the Athenaion comes to us through the famous Roman writer Cicero, who described the precious ivory and gold decorations that adorned the door knockers, which featured a Gorgon ‘s head surrounded by snakes, and the painted panels that decorated the walls of the cella (shrine).
On either side of the pediment stood two acroteria, elegant marble statues in the guise of winged victories. The splendour of the temple culminated in the golden shield placed at the top of the roof.
The defensive weapon shone, reflecting sunlight. Because of this, it was a reference point for those approaching the city from the sea. The columns of the Athenaion are still visible today, incorporated into the structure of the Cathedral of Syracuse.

King Hyblon’s kingdom: Pantalica, between history and legend

The cultural significance of tragedy

Byzantine Pantalica

Roman Syracuse, a military power thanks to the genius of Archimedes

Pantalica: where nature and history merge

The functions of Castello Maniace

The Jews, a wandering people

Inside the Cathedral of Ortygia

Neapolis from past to present

The catacombs of San Giovanni

The Altar of Hieron II: Blood and fire place

The Senatorial Palace

The Euryalus Fortress

Traces of Christianity in Syracuse

Crypt of San Marciano

The Church of St. Lucia to the Abbey

The Ear of Dionysius and the Grotta dei Cordari

The Museion and the Grotta del Ninfeo

The Roman Amphitheatre

Where seas and civilisations meet

Giudecca, the hidden Jewish heart of Syracuse

Piazza del Duomo, a sacred place of the ancient Greeks

The Cathedral of Syracuse

The Dionysian Walls: a masterpiece of Greek engineering

The Spanish fortification

Castello Maniace

Syracuse during the tyranny of Dionysius

The Athenaion of the tyrant Gelon

Temple of Apollo

Ortygia. Venus rising from the waters of the port

Legends and magic echoes in the Latomie of Syracuse

The Gladiator performances

The architecture of the Piazza

The Culture of Pantalica

The Church of San Giovanni alle Catacombe

The Venationes

The Greek Theatre of Syracuse