Syracuse, (Italian: Siracusa), Italy, a city on the east coast of Sicily and the capital of the province of Syracuse. In ancient times Syracuse was a city-state. At its height during the fourth and third centuries B.C., it rivaled Athens and Carthage as a great Mediterranean power. The modern city has a number of examples of early Greek and Roman architecture.
Syracuse was founded by Greek colonists in 734 B.C. Because of its strategic location and natural harbors, the city rapidly developed into a major center of trade and culture in the Mediterranean. During the Peloponnesian War, an Athenian expedition that attacked Syracuse was totally destroyed, 415--413 B.C. Under Dionysius I, Syracuse defeated Carthaginian forces that invaded Sicily and became the leading city in the Greek world.
During the Punic Wars, Roman forces laid siege to Syracuse in 214 B.C. The mathematician Archimedes directed the city's defense, but it was starved into submission (211 B.C.) and came under Roman control.