Syracuse (modern Italian: Siracusa) is a historic city in southern Italy, the capital of the province of Syracuse. The city is noted for its rich Ancient Greek history, culture, amphitheatres, architecture and association to Archimedes, playing an important role in ancient times as one of the top powers of the Mediterranean world; it is over 2,700 years old. Syracuse is located in the south-east corner of the island of Sicily, right by the Gulf of Syracuse next to the Ionian Sea.
In the late 5th century BC, Syracuse found itself at war with Athens during the course of the Peloponnesian War. While Syracuse sought to control Katane, an Athenian expedition led by Alkibiades drove the pro-Syracusan faction from the city.
The Athenians immediately marched to Syracuse itself and besieged it. In order to prevent foodstuffs from entering the polis from the countryside, the Athenians began building a wall around the city. The Syracusans replied with a counterwall that thrusted out from the city fortifications to try to block the encirclement. Both sides guarded the laborers building the walls with armored hoplites but one morning the Syracusans had too few so the Athenians attacked. Their weight in numbers allowed the Athenians to force their opponents back but just before the enemy phalanx collapsed, the Syracusans opened the city gate and stormed out, the small numbers outside being bait for a trap.
Now the Athenians were outnumbered, by two to one, and were forced back. It looked bad but Alkibiades counterattacked with horsemen and light-armed peltasts followed by a column of hoplites. The Syracusans began to break ranks and flee back to the city eventually leaving a quarter of their numbers to try to hold back the Athenians. These were quickly defeated while the riders and peltasts attacked the fleeing hoplites. The city gate opened to allow the Syracusans to re-enter but Alkibiades and his horsemen were mixed in with them and managed to enter as well. They drove off the gate crew and allowed the Athenian hoplites in.
After fierce fighting, the city fell to the Athenians. Alkibiades installed a puppet regime to run the city. The fall of Syracuse was a major stepping stone to Alkibiades' conquest of Athens.