A few kilometres away from
Trapani, in the Western
part of Sicily, on the summit of
Mount Giuliano is where one can find Erice.
This City has a unique fascination and incredible
panoramic views of the surrounding region and the
archipelago of Egadi.
The City guarantees many unforgettable emotions thanks to
the Medieval aspect of its buildings,
its alleyways, churches
and its still preserved walls.
Its name is derived from Venere Ericina, the goddess of fertility,
who was worshipped from ancient times with the construction
of the famous temple.
According to Tucidide, a Greek historian,
Erice was founded by the Esuli Trojans, who
embarked there after escaping from Troy. They then mixed with
the local population of Sicani, allowing the birth of the
Elimi people, the same population who founded Segesta.
Erice was then run for centuries by the Carthaginians,
with a short break of a year, in which it was in feud and
under rule of Pirro, the King of Epiro.
During the First Punic War (264-241 BC),
it was made a stronghold by General Amilcare, who deported
a number of inhabitants to assist in the foundation of Drepanon,
now Trapani, which is still
today only a port.
The City then saw the clash between the Romans and the Carthaginians
for over a century. It then passed hands to the Romans and
became a famous religious centre.
Little is known though from Roman times nor Byzantine.
Erice flourished once more in history with the arrival of
the Arabs, who conquered the rock in ‘831,
promising economic development of the town. The Normans,
under the command of Ruggero d’Altavilla,
besieged it (1167) and conquered it in the
12th Century, giving it the name of Monte San Guiliano, which
it retained until the end of 1934.
It’s from this period that saw the construction of the
Matrice Church, the Castle,
the Palazzo Chiaramonte and the renovation of the
With the growth of religious orders during the 13th and 14th
Centuries, other churches were built, which have kept the
same architectural and urban structures from that time to
Entry to the triangular perimeters of Erice is via the Trapani
port and by passing through Via Regia, where
one can find the Matrice Church (1314), with
its Gothic doorway and rose-window. Other worthwhile churches
to visit are: the Norman Church of S. Martino, the
Church of Salvatore, the 14th Century Saint Francis
and Saint John the Baptist.
One can also visit the Venere Castle which
was erected during the 12th Century and where, once upon a
time, lay the Temple of Venere (Venus).