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Erice

Towering over the west of Sicily at 751m above sea level and often covered in its own personal cloud, Erice is a wonderfully preserved Mediaeval town offering the most breathtaking views and a palpable sense of history. Originally an Elymian city (the Elymians were around before the Greeks ever set foot in Sicily) Erice, or Eryx as it was first called, was a town of no little importance and renown and is said to have attracted the likes Hercules and Aeneas.


Like so many Sicilian towns, it passed from one invader to another as all the usual suspects came and went, leaving their architectural calling cards and their cultural footprints.


Top Attractions


Castello di Venere

This 12th- to 13th-century Norman castle was built over the Temple of Venus, long a site of worship for the ancient Elymians, Phoenicians, Greeks and Romans. Nowadays the castle's rooms are off-limits, but visitors can explore the grassy interior courtyard, filled with ruined foundations and flanked by an impressive stone wall allegedly built by Daedalus. Stealing the show are the spectacular panoramic vistas extending to San Vito Lo Capo on one side and the Saline di Trapani on the other.


Real Duomo

Erice's Royal Cathedral – a golden mirage of sculpted buttermilk stone and Carrara marble – was built in 1314 by order of a grateful Frederick III who sheltered in Erice during the Sicilian Vespers uprising (1282–1314). Its interior was remodelled in neo-Gothic style in 1865, but the 15th-century side chapels were conserved. In the former sacristy, the Museo di Erice La Montagna del Signore displays sacred artworks, chalices, candlesticks and other 15th- and 16th-century silverware.


Torre di Federico

Begin your Erice foray with a sweeping bird's-eye view of the medieval village from the top of this 28m-tall crenellated tower. It served as a lookout during the Sicilian Vespers uprising (1282–1314) and later became bell tower to the neighbouring cathedral.


Chiesa di San Giuliano

Built by the Normans in the 11th century, this church later underwent extensive reconstruction, including the addition of an 18th-century baroque bell tower. The interior holds a collection of religious sculptures (the Gruppo dei Misteri) that are paraded through town annually in Erice's Good Friday processions.


Chiesa di San Martino

Originally built in Gothic style in the 14th century, this church was demolished and completely rebuilt in the late 1600s. Its bright white interior is punctuated by an elegantly carved 18th-century wooden choir and pulpit.


Chiesa di San Giovanni

This church is noteworthy for its pair of Renaissance sculptures by the Gagini family: Antonio Gagini's statue of St John the Baptist, and Antonello Gagini's St John the Evangelist.

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