A small island of myth and legend
Ortigia is the oldest nucleus of Syracuse, a small island of just over one square kilometre now connected to the rest of the city by two bridges, Ponte Umbertino and Ponte Santa Lucia. For ever associated with Greek mythology, Ortigia, according to legend, was the place where Latona took refuge to escape the wrath of Hera, wife of Zeus, and where she gave birth to the sun god Apollo and the goddess of the hunt, Artemis.
So many of Syracuse's wonders are located on the island of Ortigia, such as the striking Fonte Aretusa, a freshwater pool linked to one of the many springs that characterise this area. Just a few metres away you can view the Syracuse Cathedral and the ancient Church of San Giovannello, the remains of the Temple of Apollo, the Temple dedicated to Athena and the Temple of Artemis, built between the 7th and 6th centuries BC.
Ortigia also boasts some of Syracuse's most picturesque buildings, with styles ranging from Baroque to Art Nouveau and Rococo. At the very tip of the island stands Maniace Castle, one of the most important Swabian monuments in the town.