The Apollonion welcomes visitors right at the entrance to Ortigia, like 2500 years ago. His architect Kleomene was so proud of the work he had done that he wanted to engrave his name on the base of the building. The temple of Apollo was a peripterum with 6 columns on the short sides and 17 on the long sides, of which remain two surviving columns, still with their Doric capital. Built in the 6th century BC, it was remodeled several times to become a basilica with the Byzantines, a mosque with the Arabs and, finally, return to the original forms only in the 1930s, when much of the destruction had already occurred. From there it is enough to continue for Corso Matteotti, on the ancient path that connected the Apollonion all'Athenaion in a sort of sacred road that leads up to the Piazza del Duomo.
2 - Fountain of the Goddess Artemis
We pass through Piazza Archimede, occupied by the majestic fountain of the goddess Artemis, intent on protecting the nymph Aretusa from the insistent court of Alfeo. Here the main streets of Ortigia, the Via della Maestranza and Via Roma converge, all to be savored slowly. But for the moment we continue to the right, and through an intrigue of alleys full of emotions, here from Via Landolina unraveling suddenly the evocative scenery of a paved square of white stone that shines at every hour of the day, the most beautiful oval square of Sicily, where you can admire the wonders of the Duomo, the church of Santa Lucia alla Badia, the Curia, the Palazzo Vermezio and the Beneventano del Bosco Palace. We are in the ancient agora of Syracuse, right on top of the island, on that natural terrace that was clearly visible from the sea, and from which the golden shield placed in the tympanum of the temple of Athena was sighted by all sailors as soon as they entered the port .
3 - Cathedral
The shield and the statue of Athena are gone, but the temple is still there, built 2400 years ago by the tyrant Gelone, with its valuable columns still intact, even if caged in the Cathedral, even if transformed into that extraordinary combination of temple pagan and Christian basilica commissioned by the Byzantines in the seventh century and, come down to us through the medieval and baroque touch-ups. Therefore, the Cathedral of Syracuse contains two souls: on the outside the Baroque façade designed by Andrea Palma, with the statues of Ignazio Marabitti; inside, the classical temple of the goddess Athena. Just go up a few steps to make an amazing jump in the past and, from the eighteenth century facade, go back to the V century BC. and enter directly into the cell of the ancient Athenaion, today central nave of the Cathedral, but still there in all the simplicity and beauty of Greek architecture and in the granite fluted columns of the Doric temple. Here the Syracusans placed them after the victory over the Carthaginians in Himera in 480 BC, here we find them intact, to make a pair with the Corinthian columns of the facade, in a mix that does not detract from the building, but tells the whole historical stratification .
4 - Temple of Artemis
As soon as you leave the church you can go to the building that runs alongside the Via Minerva, the seventeenth-century building of Palazzo Vermexio, today the Town Hall, in whose basements are found the foundation structures of the temple of Artemis, a grandiose Ionic temple of VI sec. BC, cited from sources like Artemiseion.
5 – Castle Maniace
Finally, you can close the walk with one of the most impressive castles of Sicily, that castel Maniace wanted by Frederick II on the place where there was probably a battle won by the Byzantine leader Giorgio Maniace, right at the end of the island. The mighty quadrangular structure with the four circular towers still retains all the charm of the medieval manor, although today it hosts cultural events.