Historians believe that Syracuse, today a city of about 125,000 people, was founded by Greek settlers around 730 B.C. Much of the ancient city was on the island Ortygia, which connects so closely to the mainland today that you might not realize you have crossed a bridge to get to it. This is where you will find the historic city cathedral, which once served as a Greek temple, as well as the Fontana Aretusa, which served as the ancients' supply of fresh water.
Paradise Quarry, which is located inside Parco Archeologico della Neapolis, is one of the most famous ancient quarries in all of Italy. It was from here, as well as three or four other primary quarries, that great stones were hauled and then carved into some of the grandest statues in the history of Syracuse.
Perhaps more interesting because of its unique presence on Sicily, Syracuse is also home to Parco Archeologico della Neapolis, an archaeological park that features the remains of a fifth-century B.C. amphitheater once believed to have held more than 15,000 people. The stage is still somewhat intact, and you can stand atop it, just as performers did in the days of Euripedes.
Also still standing in the park — and perhaps just as theatrical in its day, albeit in a gruesome way — is the Altar of Heron. It is believed to have once included the longest altar base ever built, which allowed the Greeks to sacrifice the lives of hundreds of animals simultaneously.