You are here:


Online travel guide to Syracuse

Greek rule in Syracuse

The Rise and Fall of the ancient metropolis

The Greek colonization of Syracuse began around 734 B.C. by colonists from Corinth. In only two centuries, Syracuse developed into the largest city in the Greek world. As the first Sicilian territorial state, the Greek metropolis expanded its influence over large parts of the Mediterranean before it slowly came to an end in the dispute between Carthage and Rome.

Greek rule in Syracuse Greek Theatre

Greek colonization of Syracuse

The island of Ortygia - now the centre of the old town of Syracuse - was settled very early by Sicels and was also the starting point of Greek colonization of Syracuse. Colonists from Corinth landed here in 734 B.C. and expelled the resident Sicels. The island was quickly extended to a city and the adjacent headland also colonized. After a few decades the colonists founded more daughter cities like Akrai, Kasmenai and Kanarina. The economic prosperity of the city attracted more and more people to Syracuse and the city developed into a major city. With 500,000 inhabitants, it was already the largest city in the Greek world in the 5th Century B.C.

Heydays and greatest power expansion

After an uprising of Siculi serfs in the early 5th Century B.C., Gelo of Gela took part in the conflict and conquered Syracuse in 485 B.C. He established the first tyranny and Syracuse became the capital of an eastern Sicilian territorial state. Followed by a period of great prosperity, Syracuse steadily extended its influence. The city celebrated its greatest successes as Gelo defeated the Carthaginians at Himera in 480 B.C. and his brother Hiero I defeated the Etruscan fleet in 474 B.C. In 450 B.C. Syracuse successfully suppressed a rebellion of the Siculi duke Ducetius before it finally came into conflict with Athens. In 427 and 415 B.C. the Athenians besieged Syracuse and were defeated both at sea and on land.

Greek rule in Syracuse Castello Eurialo

End of the hegemony of Syracuse in Sicily

This great triumph of Syracuse, however, heralded the slow end of the dominance of the city. Carthage saw its chance for revenge and attacked the war-weakened Syracuse in 409 B.C. Selinus, Akragas and Himera fell to Carthage before Dionysus I could stop the rise of Carthage by clever contracts with Rome in 405 BC. He fortified Syracuse by a double ring of walls and the fort Eurialo and gave the city a second golden age of almost 100 years, which brought a great number of artists and philosophers (Archimedes, Plato, etc.) to Syracuse. After the death of Hiero II, who cleverly placed Syracuse between the rivals Rome and Carthage, the Romans finally attacked Syracuse and annexed it to the Roman Empire - Greek rule in Sicily was finally over.

Forgot your login details?
Not registered yet?

Register with ZAINOO for free!

Please indicate your e-mail address!

You are not logged in!

To log in, just click on the “Login” button, on the top right-hand side of the screen, and enter your ZAINOO login data.

Not registered yet? Then become a member of our travel community for free and get numerous benefits:

  • Save and modify your tours
  • Rate sights
  • Leave tips and comments
Register here
Zainoo Italien

How do I plan my journey?

Choose your destination/your attractions

Use the map, search or navigation function to choose your desired destination/attraction and click on the “Add to journey” button.

My journey

Finalise your itinerary

My journey

Click on the “My journey” button and put the sights into the desired order with drag-and-drop. Select any additional information, take a last look at your route and let’s go.

Take your personal itinerary with you

You’ve completed your itinerary – what’s next? Simply print, download, send it by e-mail or download an e-book for your mobile phone and you are ready for your next trip.


ZAINOO registered users can save their itineraries and extend or re-use them later at any time.

Register now!

Zainoo is and will remain free.

My journey

No personal destinations or attractions were added to your journey!

No idea how to do it? You will find exact instructions for your individual travel planning under the button „Plan a journey“.

Greek rule in Syracuse
The destination/sight was added to your journey!