What to see in Erice

Dove si trova Erice

The picturesque and charming town of Erice is one of the most attractive tourist resorts, not only in Sicily, but throughout the Mediterranean area. It is located at the height of 750 meters, from which you can admire all its medieval glory: alleys and courtyards make you feel like time has stopped.

From here, you can enjoy a breathtaking view from Trapani to the Aegadian Islands where, at sunset, a fantastic set of colours appears in front of your eyes and the rays of the setting sun are reflected in the whiteness of the saltpans. Thousands of tourists crowd the streets during the whole year and, as Erice hosts the Centre for Scientific Culture “Ettore Majorana” since 1963, there are also many scholars from around the world.

The Museums in Erice

The Museum A. Cordici, is located in the Town Hall, in the elegant “Umberto I” Square. Here, you can find the beautiful marble work of the Annunciation, as well as archaeological findings with an incredible value: the Aphrodite’s marble little head (IV century BC), and the pintadera, an object used in the past to get ornamental moulds on leather textiles. In addition to these, some other objects were found all along the slopes of Mount Erice: bronzes, earthenwares, glass and coins of very different eras, from the Carthaginian period to the late Roman period.

The 1st floor of the building also hosts the municipal library, which includes more than 20,000 volumes and 300 manuscripts.
The Agro-forestry Museum “St. Mattew”, a few kilometres far from the centre of Erice, is a further interesting step for those who love Nature. Located within the forest property, it includes a rich collection of flora and fauna typical of the area around Erice, but there is also a number of old farming tools and an oil mill.
The Malacological Museum is about 1 km far from Erice and has its base next to a former seventeenth-century church. Inside, you will find a rich collection of crustaceans, echinoderms, shells and marine fossils dating back to prehistoric times.

Historical Background of Erice

Erice was probably founded by the Elymians, the indigenous population who welcomed the exiles from Troy among his people. Yet, all along the mount’s slopes were found traces of previous prehistoric settlements. In ancient times, Erice was a holy town and for this reason on the mount’s top there was the temple dedicated to Aphrodite, the goddess of Fertility and patron of sailors (the Romans called her Venus Ericina).

The town was characterized not only by worship, but also by transgression: the beautiful goddess’ priestesses behaved as rake women and, as a consequence ,they brought about today’s practices like prostitution.
Eryx was one of the most important fortresses in Sicily, it was allied to Carthage and was lost and re-conquered. The population was deported to Drepano (the modern Trapani) and the town, including the sacred temple, was razed to the ground. Once conquered by the Romans, it lost its political-administrative relevance it had had in the past.

The Arabs arrived in Erice in 831 and renamed it Gebel-Hamed (meaning Mountain of Hamid). But it was only with the Normans that the town was able to return to its former glory: they reinforced the walls, they built the Castle and wonderful palaces and churches, they reorganized the urban shape. Erice was called Monte San Giuliano by Count Roger (according to the legend, the saint appeared in one of his
dreams during the siege) and it kept all its beauty and much of its importance throughout the Modern Age.

In 1934 Mussolini expressed his will to name it Erice again, in memory of the ancient Roman Age, which was an inspiration for the fascist movement.
Since 1963 Erice is famous for hosting the Centre for Scientific Culture “Ettore Majorana”, a prestigious scientific organization for the study of planetary emergencies, founded by the Trapanese Physicist and international scientific leader Antonino Zichici.

Erice by Night

The night life in Erice can be funny and relaxing, romantic and adventurous. Its atmosphere is magical and it is the ideal place to have dinner in a restaurant, and then look at the wonderful panorama that Erice has.

However, there are attractions for those who want to make new friends: you can find many tourists in bars, pubs and disco clubs: the right places to drink, dance and meet people. All this in an incredible location deeply rooted in history; it is difficult to compare it to other places.