Syracuse has been selected by Roberto Amati in relation to the real history of european integration, then enlisted in the CITY OR CIVITAS category, accompanied by own fact SHEET useful to the comprehension, completed of historical MAPS AND IMAGES or with a direct linking to the related Blog contents dedicated to the entire history of european integration and the future of Europe.

Syracuse civitas

Syracuse is one of the most ancient cities of the history of European integration, signed in great part by Christianity. The Civitas Syracuse was founded in 734 BC by Greeks on a natural harbour on the Ionian sea and named Syrako, developed as main trading port with Corinth (the motherland πόλις) became the most powerful Greek city anywhere in the Mediterranean sea, dominus of the south-east Sicily and Magna Greacia area for centuries. Soon Syracuse had to fight against Carthage for the control of the island and in 485 AD won a decisive battle and erected a temple to Athena in the city centre: since then its population rose over Athens and their competition got to the top during the Peloponeesis war, when Syracuse sent hoplites to allied Sparta and destroyed the Athenians fleet in Sicily. In the meantime, Syracuse was allied to Cumae against the expansion of Etruscans in Italy and the Thyrrenian sea and could definitely defeat the Carthagineans in 339 BC, before to found its new colonies in Ancona and Adria on the Adriatic sea and on Corsica isle. In that period has been built the massive fortress in Ortygia and the 22 km-long walls around all of Syracuse still existing! After decades of new wars won against Carthago, since the middle of III century BC Syracuse was the most renowned capitals of Antiquity and wrote the so-called "Lex Hieronica" (later adopted by the Romans for administrate the Province of Sicily), then enlarged the greek theatre and could host the most famous mathematician of all times, Archimede, whose tomb is still visible in the city. He was killed by Romans when conquered Syracuse in 212 BC to vindicate its change of alliance in the Second Punic War, after a long siege terminated with the entrance near the Fountain of Arethusa site.

Annexed to the Roman Res Public, Syracuse developed more its natural trading position within the Mediterranean sea and built many luxurious residences (still existing!) and public services, connecting the city to the others centres in Sicily through the Valeria way starting from Reggio and running all along the island coasts passing through Palermo and Agrigento. Within the reform of Augustus (see Roman Empire), Syracuse became the capital of the Siciliae province, where could live together Romans, Greeks and the ancient Sicani people (date back at that age the Temple of Apollo and the amphitheatre still visibles) into Christian community that with the reform of Constantine I (see Christian Empire) became a bishopric city within the imperial Italiae Diocesis: since then, through the efforts of Saint Paul of Tarsus and Saint Marziano the first bishop of the city, Christianity spread from Syracuse to the main centres of proselytism in Western Europe. When the Western Roman Empire imploded in 476 AD, Syracuse was briefly conquered by Vandals and Ostrogoths but after the Gothic War returned to Byzantine Empire becoming part of the Exarchate of Sicily and consequently of the Theme Sikelia: in that period were built the palace seat of the city strategos, many churches in byzantine style as the Basilica of Santa Lucia "Extra moenia" (on the martyrdom place of the city saint patron, whose catacombs are in the crypta) and the San Martino church with a XIV century façade and the Cathedral covering the ancient Temple of Athena on Ortygia island.

From 878 to 1085 AD the island went under Arabs rule, who founded the Emirate of Sicily and put its capital in Palermo, converted in mosque the cathedral and built many Islamic styled palaces in Ortigia, letting Syracuse maintain its important trade relationships while hosting a relatively flourishing cultural and artistic life thanks to several relevant Arab poets. When Normans conquered Sicily in mission for the Roman Church under the Hauteville dinasty, they received the title of Sicily kingdom by reintroducing Chritstianity in the island and building many marvellous monuments such as the Castello Maniace, built by the emperor Frederik II in honour to the byzantine general who could save the Saint Lucy relics and many lords/barons palaces still visible, new quarters and the cathedral was restored, as well as other churches. In 1298 AD Sicily kingdom was conquered by Bellonidi dinasty and joined to the Aragon Crown, but a series of natural disasters (earthquakes, plague, cholera, burnings) devastated the city, rebuilt under the Borbone dinasty in sicilian baroque style considered one of the most typical expressions of the architecture of Southern Italy. Since then Syracuse followed the history and destiny of Sicily and Italy.

Syracuse is a Sicily's cultural, economic and tourism capital, a city rich in history, art, music and food. Numerous tourists are attracted to the city for its appealing Mediterranean climate, its renowned gastronomy and ancient, Gothic and Baroque buildings sited in the centre of the Syracuse city and the near Necropolis of Pantalica" enlisted in the UNESCO Wordl Heritage. Nowadays, Syracuse is a medium size city in the south-east of the Sicily region whose patron is the Saint Lucia, a virgin martyr born and executed in the city during the Diocletian persecutions.

If you want keeping in touch with the author send an email. Learn more on the book and next presentations: click here!