The system of fortifications from land to sea

The Spanish fortification

In 1535 the viceroy Don Ferdinando Gonzaga, sent by the Emperor and King of Spain Charles V, arrived in Syracuse. These times were in danger of Turkish invasion.
For this reason, in 1537 Syracuse became a fortified town according to Gonzaga’s design of strategic and defensive reinforcement, a project that involved the construction of numerous structures using material obtained by partially destroying some of the greatest Greek monuments, rendered meaningless stone quarries.
The city walls built in Spanish times were an ingenious example of military architecture: protected by massive ramparts, they rose up from the ground and unravelled along the rugged coastline.
The Castello Maniace was incorporated into the circuit, forming the watchtower, or the heart of the grandiose defence system at the entrance to the Porto Grande. The castle area was enclosed by walls and equipped with walkways and platforms for the artillery.
An outpost was also built to further protect the entrance to the island of Ortygia.
In 1614, again in the Spanish period, the famous coat of arms was placed above the portal. Among the countless historical events that took place within its walls, one concerning the name change from Maniace to San Giacomo  is particularly curious.
In 1618 the castle took the name of  San Giacomo and the four corner towers were named San Pietro, Santa Caterina, San Filippo and Santa Lucia. Although many military structures were built around the castle in the 17th century, its main body was never altered and its square, turreted bulk still stands above the Spanish ramparts today.

Ortygia. Venus rising from the waters of the port

Where seas and civilisations meet

The Culture of Pantalica

The cultural significance of tragedy

Giudecca, the hidden Jewish heart of Syracuse

The Ear of Dionysius and the Grotta dei Cordari

Neapolis from past to present

Traces of Christianity in Syracuse

The Altar of Hieron II: Blood and fire place

Temple of Apollo

The Church of San Giovanni alle Catacombe

The Museion and the Grotta del Ninfeo

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

Crypt of San Marciano

The Church of St. Lucia to the Abbey

Syracuse during the tyranny of Dionysius

The Euryalus Fortress

The Venationes

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

The catacombs of San Giovanni

Pantalica: where nature and history merge

The Jews, a wandering people

Castello Maniace

Inside the Cathedral of Ortygia

The functions of Castello Maniace

The Dionysian Walls: a masterpiece of Greek engineering

The Cathedral of Syracuse

The Roman Amphitheatre

The Senatorial Palace

Byzantine Pantalica

The Greek Theatre of Syracuse

The architecture of the Piazza

The Athenaion of the tyrant Gelon

Legends and magic echoes in the Latomie of Syracuse

The Gladiator performances

Piazza del Duomo, a sacred place of the ancient Greeks

The Spanish fortification