Syracuse, in south-eastern Sicily, has been a city of great importance in the history of Mediterranean civilization. Founded in the VIII century BC from Greek colonies on the small island of Ortigia, where the Arethusa spring was found, which inspired myths and poems, connected to the mainland by two bridges, was defined by Cicero as "the largest and most beautiful Greek city". Subsequently four other districts developed: Acradina, Tychè, Neàpoli and Epipoli, so much so that the city was called the "Pentapoli" and became a major metropolis on the ancient Mediterranean scene.
Many well-preserved buildings and architectural structures clearly bear witness to the domination of the Romans, Byzantines, Barbarians, Arabs and Normans who have succeeded over time in Syracuse and the continuous development of the city over the centuries, but at the same time give an account of the extraordinary importance that Syracuse has covered for almost three millennia in the Mediterranean area.
Of the world heritage site is also part of the rock necropolis of Pantalica, 40 kilometers from Syracuse, which contains over 5000 tombs carved into the rock and dating back to the period between the thirteenth and seventh centuries BC.
From the discovery of a megalithic construction, the Anaktoron, or Palazzo del Principe, and it was assumed that Pantalica was an indigenous state, an expression of Sicilian civilization prior to the Greek colonization. With the growing influence of Syracuse, the settlement and the necropolis of Pantalica were abandoned. During the Byzantine domination, the necropolis system was repopulated and exploited to form rupestrian villages, in which some of the tombs were enlarged and became dwellings, while others were destined for church or oratory. Later, the Pantalica area returned to be uninhabited.