Syracuse thanks to its significant locations has architectural fragments of such an intelligence and wisdom representing an art history that goes from the Greeks to the Normans today. The temple of Athena in Doric style was erected in the fifth century BC the tyrant Gelo after the victory against the Carthaginians in the Battle of Imera. The Athenaion had six columns in front, with 14 columns along the sides. Part of the temple is currently visible on the left side of the cathedral while the other remains are preserved in the Museo Archeologico Regionale Paolo Orsi.



The temple had been preceded by a place of worship dating back to the eighth century BC, with an altar unearthed in excavations of the early twentieth century, and a temple of the first half of the sixth century BC.



 In the seventh century the temple was converted into a church by the bishop of the city Zos. The church, of Byzantine style, was dedicated to the Nativity of Mary. The floor dates from the fifteenth century and in 1518 the nave was covered with the wooden ceiling still preserved. In the sixteenth century was also erected the bell tower. In 1728 the façade was reconstructed.