Photo by Els Slots.

Syracuse and the rocky Necropolis of Pantalica bear testimony to the development of Mediterranean civilization in the past 3000 years.

Syracuse was one of the greatest Greek colonies. The remains from that period can be found on the island of Ortygia and at the archeological park of Neapolis. Later civilizations, such as the Byzantines, Arabs, Normans, Bourbons and Aragonese also left their mark on Ortygia. The Necropolis of Pantalica lies 40km away and holds rock-cut tombs made by indigenous people of Sicily.

Community Perspective: Ortygia is a pleasure to explore on foot and its Duomo is recommended for a visit as it has developed constantly like the city, from the Ancient Greek to the Baroque. The Necropolis at Pantalica is “nothing special”, and Alikander made it to the third component of this eclectic site, the archeological park of Neapolis.

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Spain - 16-Jan-24 -

I just realised no one here has actually gone to the neapolis archaelogical park, which is one of the 3 main components of the site so...i'll give my impression.

The archaelogical site IS unfortunately nothing too impressive. I recall a Big greek theatre, a small Roman aphiteatre (both in a somewhat patchy state especially for Italy) and the ancient limestone quarries. Mostly I just walked around the ruins. It's not bad but I would say selinunte or agrigento are much better places to get a feel of the greek past of the island.

Nearby you can go check the catacombe di san Giovanni. They're pretty big and still has a few frescoes. I found them plenty interesting though I haven't visited many paleochristian necropolis to compare them too. I can say it's bigger but roughly of the same quality as the ones I saw in malta. In fact I wonder if they could be added to malta's twhs as a transnational nomination as they're typologically very similar.

Across the road you'll find the basílica santuario Madonna delle lacrime. A pretty interesting (and very photogenic) brutalist church.

I did not visit the necropolis of pantalica but I agree that ortigia IS the main element in the site anyway and it warrants inscription on its own given its importance and good conservation state. I found The temple turned Cathedral particularly enthralling and unique. The rest of the island holds a good baroque ensemble.

Ilya Burlak

USA - 03-Jan-22 -

Syracuse by Ilya Burlak

Our trip to Sicily in September of 2021 budgeted time only for Ortigia, the historic nucleus of Syracuse that has been continuously inhabited for over 3,000 years. The island is very walkable and reasonably compact, high on the historic-feel quotient with a non-trivial measure of decay and lack of TLC, and decidedly short on killer features.

The walk around town will bring you to the Temple of Apollo ruins, the Ortigia street market, the natural spring of Arethusa, the 13th-century Maniace military fort, and other easy on the eye perspectives. Views over the water on the southeastern edge of Ortigia, where the crescent of Lungomare d'Ortigia leaves room for a sliver of a beach are my favorite. Piazza del Duomo is by far the widest public space on the island, presided over by the cathedral that incorporates in its structure the remnants of the Greek Doric Temple of Athena, built on this same site all the way back in the 5th century BCE.

There are also many examples of Baroque both at churches and in civic architecture. (Syracuse happens to be geographically closer to Noto and Ragusa than Catania is, so obviously some rebuilding after the earthquake of 1693 for which "Baroque Towns of Val di Noto" are celebrated occurred here as well.)

We spent over half a day in Ortigia, which is the least it deserves. Several museums - none that I believe are of "must-see" variety - could be worked into the itinerary for a longer stay. The large Parcheggio Molo Sant'antonio is a convenient place to leave the car, less than 5 minutes walk to the bridges that connect Ortigia with the "mainland".

I assume that going to the Neapolis archaeological park is similar in experience to visiting Agrigento, which means at least 2-3 hours. Necropolis of Pantalica is sufficiently far out of the city that I cannot imagine you would prioritize visiting it unless your time in Sicily was not constrained.

Read more from Ilya Burlak here.

Jakob Frenzel

Germany - 12-Nov-19 -

Syracuse by Jakob Frenzel

March 2019, the 2nd last day of our Sicily Trip we arrived in Syracus. Unfortunately we only visited that part of the WHS. With our baby we strolled around the city and watched our for some seafood. It is a very historic and nice town, however loaded with Restaurants and not many places to rest. However, there are a lot of streets to explorea dn some nice little shops too.

It was a good place to conclude our Sicily trip. 7 WHSites, 1 Tentative, Lots of good food and the first trip with our small girl. We enjoyed it a lot.


Czechia - 05-Jan-19 -

Visited in May 2014. I spent half a day in the historic center of Syracuse located on Isola di Ortigia, so, I have not seen other parts of this WHS that might be more interesting and more important in respect to OUV than Ortigia.

It was pleasent day strolling in the narrow streets and enjoying views to Ionian sea... However, I must say I prefer other towns in Sicily, especially those located on the top of hills or in the deep valleys such as nearby Ragusa Ibla, Modica and Scicli (also WHS) and many many others.

In conclusion: the best from Syracuse what I keep in my memories: (1) visiting somehow odd cathedral blending together everything from antiquity to baroque, and (2) enjoyng cappuccino&cornetto di crema and handsome Sicilian boys all around...


Malta - 22-May-15 -

Syracuse by Clyde

I visited this WHS in May 2015. The rock-cut tombs of Pantalica are nothing special visually and I had more fun hiking in the Mediterranean environment rather than actually enjoying what's left to see of these tombs. On the other hand, Syracuse in general but specifically the sites in Ortigia are a great summary of what Sicily has to offer ... temples, amphitheatres, remains, baroque churches, great food, narrow alleys adorned with ornate balconies, friendly people, sea, sun and good food. I enjoyed my time in Syracuse as a starter of what Sicily has to offer. The town is quite touristy overall so nothing really off the beaten track (except Pantalica but only for WHS enthusiasts really). However, I would still advise anyone who visits Sicily to come here at least for a day or two. The highlight of my visit was definitely the Temple of Athena which has been converted to a church through the ages.

Douglas Scully

USA - 08-Apr-06 -

Doug (USA)

Syracuse is a large site to visit. There is the archaeoligical park with the ruins of a large Greek theater, a Roman amphitheater, and a huge altar of sacrifice. In the oldest section of Ortygia you can see nice examples of Gothic architecture (houses and churches), Greek remains, and views of the sea. One of the most interesting sights is the main cathedral. At the front it has an 18th century facade put on after a devastating earthquake, but walk to the side and you see the archaic columns in the walls. This church was built within a large ancient Greek temple and many of the portions of the temple are still visible. A really remarkable place to visit. Along the shoreline of Syracuse you will see rocks with square cuts in them, a source of the stone used to make the ancient buidlings. Other quarries exist inland. These served as prisons of the Athenians captured during their attack on the city. In the quarry by the Villa Politi you can see the beginnings of the sculpture of a Greek column. Something not often mentioned is that Syracuse has Christian catacombs. A visit to them is quite the experience. Don't go too far from your guide because it is really easy to get lost!

Els Slots

The Netherlands - 04-Apr-06 -

Syracuse by Els Slots

Siracusa owns an old Mediterranean heart in Ortygia, a harbour Venetian or Cretan in its looks. Crumbling buildings, a street market, colourful balconies, drying laundry from the windows: a true delight to the senses. There's nothing else to do than wander the quiet streets, peeking around corners and awe at the ubiquitous churches and palazzi. The attractive and open Piazza Duomo (I found it hard to find at first) has the most prominent buildings.

Like in some of the other places I visited in Sicily there is a lot of reconstruction going on. Ortygia's Duomo is one of the monuments that are under scaffolding at the moment. Don't let this put you off visiting, there's so much more to see. I didn't get into any of the buildings, just roamed around and had a fine time. Siracusa is well on the beaten path for the general tour groups, I noticed even a cruise ship disembarking its passengers here for a visit!

I skipped Neapolis due to an Ancient Greek/Roman overdose I felt coming, but did manage to get to the necropolis of Pantalica. About an hour outside of Siracusa, it can be reached via a scenic road that shows the Sicilian countryside at its best. The drive there on small mountain roads, lined by olive trees and the occasional village (pretty Ferla!) is actually more worth it than the burial site itself. To the untrained eye, the burial chambers that held whole families are merely holes in the rocks.

Ian Cade

UK - 01-May-05 -

Syracuse by Ian Cade

The ancient port city of Siracusa was the main target for our all too brief excursion to South Eastern Sicily, and it was well worth the effort to get there. The heart of the city lies on the island of Ortygia, and as said elsewhere the real charm lies in just wandering around the tight lanes, peeking down narrow alleys and arriving at beautiful squares.

Continuously developed from the 9th Century BC Siracusa was a hugely important Greek colony rivalling Athens, and matching the importance of the Phoenician stronghold of Carthage. Some of the greatest names of Greek civilisation lived here, most notable were Plato, Pindar, Aeschylus and Archimedes. The later actually designed some of the fortifications of the city.

On the main land the ruins at Neopolis were impressive though we only managed a quick peek. We did however investigate the catacombs of San Giovanni, Syracuse is home to the second largest set of Catacombs in the Christian world (after Rome), and they were well worth seeing, especially impressive was the altar from which St Paul is said to have preached.

If there is one monument that best represents Siracusa then it has to be the Duomo (Cathedral in picture), not only does it sit on the most impressive square in the city but also it has developed constantly like the city. It started life as a Greek Temple and the huge Doric columns give it proportion and bulge out from the side they also mark the aisles inside the church. It gives a great sense of how the city has developed showing traces of Greek, Roman, Paleo-Christian, Byzantine, Norman, Arab and Baroque influences. The newly restored façade is a high point of Sicilian Baroque and completes one of the highlights of the city.

Siracusa was inscribed on the World Heritage list in 2005 and I was left wondering why it took such a long time to find its way onto the list. ICOMOS states that there is no place that can match Siracusa in terms of its original influence coupled huge array of subsequent development that has turned it into the charming city it is today.

Site Info

Full Name
Syracuse and the Rocky Necropolis of Pantalica
Unesco ID
2 3 4 6
Archaeological site - Ancient Rome

Site History

2005 Inscribed


The site has 3 locations

Syracuse: Necropolis of Pantalica Italy
Syracuse: Epipolae,Achradina,Tyche and Neapolis, Euryalus Castle, Dionysian forti fications and the Scala Greca area Italy
Syracuse: Ortygia Italy


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4matcha ALS Adolfo Adrian Turtschi Afshin Iranpour Ah2409 Alberto Peterle Alessandro Votta Alexander Barabanov Alexander Lehmann Alexandrcfif Alfons and Riki Verstraeten Alicemears Alikander99 Allison Vies Altacyr Ammon Watkins Andrew Wembridge Anja Argentique Argo Ari Kailash Arianna Artur Anuszewski Ask Gudmundsen Aspasia Atila Ege Aurora Petan Bazikoln Beaglekeeper5 Ben Pastore Bin Birgitte Sørensen Boroka Szamosi Bram de Bruin Brigitte Huber Butterflybird Caminographer Caspar Dechmann Cezar Grozavu Chenboada Chenqtao Chris Lee Christian Wagner Christoph Cirene Moraes Claire Bradshaw Clyde Col Cosaflora Craig Harder Crider52 Cristina Erba CugelVance CyBeRr Dan Dani Cyr Daniel C-Hazard Daniela Hohmann David Berlanda David Pastor de la Orden Davied DennisNL87 Dgjohansson Dibro Dimitar Krastev Dimitrios Polychronopoulos Djpatten Donald M Parrish Jr Donnico Doubanjiang Doug Robertson Drazsika Drinkteatravel Echwel Elia Vettorato Els Slots Emi_mimmi Emili Xaus Emilia Emily Cullen Enrico Cerrini Eric Lurio Erik Jelinek Eva Kisgyorgy Ezio1990 FGKJR1492X FS Faekah Gohar Fan Yibo Farinelli Fedemarch92 Federico P. Feldhase Felicité Femke Roos Fernweh Filip Murlak Flexiear Fmannucci Frank Britton Frankwsolak G.L. Ingraham Geert Luiken George Evangelou George Gdanski GeorgeIng61 Gi GiuliaCh Giulio25 Gordon Mitchell Grimloch Gwythyr Hadrianus Hammeel Handballrama Harald T. Harry Mitsidis Homadism Iain Jackson Ian Cade Ilya Burlak Iriss Itahue Ivan Ivan Rucek J. Stevens JBTOR JR's HERITAGE SITES Jacob Otten Jagnes Jakob Frenzel Jana and Matt Janina Lehmann Jasam Jens Jezza JoStof Joachim Nölte-Baumann Joel on the Road John booth Johnson Zhao Jonas Kremer Jonesn15 Jos Schmitz Jose Antonio Collar Joseph C. Jsalda Judit Dalla Judith Tanner Juha Sjoeblom Julianna Lees Julie July Junwang111 Juropa KAO KYLE ROUSSEL Kasienka5 KeithBailey Kelly Henry Kent KentishTownRocks Keqi Klara Woodson Komorfil Krangalang Krijn Krisztina zill Krzysztof B La Concy LaVale Lameduck99 Lamelas Lara Adler Leontine Helleman Lidb93 Lidiane Lisu Marian Liverpool1023 Loic Pedras Loratodorova Lorenzo Mejino Lorenzo2022 Lubos Lier Lucas Del Puppo Lucio Gorla Ludvan Luis Filipe Gaspar MAURO PODDA MH MHL MSNarayanan MaYumin Maciej Gowin Malgorzata Kopczynska Mariaana Nelimarkka Marie Morlon Marta Lempert Martin Richardson Martina Librio Martina Rúčková Marton Kemeny Matejicek Mateusz Mathieu Matthewsharris Mattias MaxHeAnouBen Małgosia Łupicka Mcclaud71 Merveil Michael Novins Michelle.has.murphy Michiel Dekker Mike Mikko Mikko Syrjä Milan Jirasek Misswanderlust MoPython Monica Tasciotti Monika and Rini MulhauserPetra Nan Nanvano Nasebaer Naveed Panjwani Nihal Ege Nomad99 Oldwhizzy Oscar Wu PabloNorte Paolo ZaK Paolosan82 Parrot Pascal Cauliez Patphilly Patricia Schiller Patricia1972 Patrik Patty Verhoeven Paul Schofield Payen de La Garanderie Isabelle Peltzi Persian Globetrotter Peter Lööv PeterH Pg280172 Philipp Leu Philipp Peterer Phillipmeng Pierre T Pillaus Pink Bunny Priyaranjan Mohapatra Q Rahelka Ralf Regele Randi Thomsen Raphael Rdroghetti Reddargon Reiseblog Reisedachs Reza Ri Rich Forrest RobRos Robin Frank Roccobot Roel Sterken Roger Ourset Rom Roman Bruehwiler Roman Koeln Royacurt Rswood Rudegirl Ruth Ryan09sb SGPIUnesco SHIHE HUANG Sabrina Liebehentschel Sachin Samato Santiago Sascha Grabow Schnitzel Seadie Semixs Shandos Cleaver Shkedy_uri Simonf Sinan SirLoydd Skalec Sneijder55 Solivagant Stanislaw Warwas Stefan and Mia Stefania Giudice Stephanv Stephanvermeulen Stephen S. Kamin Stijn Sutul Svein Elias Szucs Tamas Tarquinio_Superbo Tevity Thomas Buechler Thomas van der Walt TimAllen Timothy C Easton Toffee64 Tom Flaten Tonioto Tony H. Tony0001 Tquist24 Tquist24 Triath Truls Brekke Tschibi Tsunami Uellendahl Uros Bonsek Usagi1974 V&M Valentina ValiaVeweth Van Hung Vanessa Buechler Viaje al Patrimonio Vino4vino Viv Voice180 WILLIAM RICH Walter H. Waxwing Weggeworfeneleiter Werner Huber Wojciech Fedoruk Wolfgang Hlousa WolfgangHl Wouter Wtrentfox ZivaB Zizmondka Zoë Sheng Zsuzsanna Forray