sicily home |  sitemap | imprint

Sicily Home >  About Sicily >  Day trips >  Erice


The little town Erice is situated in the province of Trapani not far away from the province’s capital. It is situated high above the water level and can be seen as a little jewel in this corner of Sicily; the city centre built up in the Middle Ages is definitely worth a visit and full of attractions. In spring when the little town sometimes is completely enveloped in clouds a magnificent dusty atmosphere is created. But the elevated position has also brought a disadvantage to the town, which is like a scar in the townscape. Because of Erice’s higher position in the landscape, the place is found to be especially suitable for cell phone antennas and so those are looming behind the middle-aged buildings and disturb the atmosphere.

The town’s history

Erice was founded by the Elyms, a people from the mountains which also founded Segesta. It was a religious place which at first was dedicated to the Goddess of fertility and later on to the Phoenician Goddess Astarte, afterwards to Aphrodite and finally to the Roman Goddess Venus. About the town a few legends exist, one saying that Eryx, a son of Poseidon and Aphrodite, shall have founded the town. He lost against Heracles in a fight, who afterwards allowed him to keep the dominion but wrested the concession from the loser that he had to cede it to one of Heracles’ descendents. Later the Spartan Dorieus appealed to this legend and wanted to conquer the town but he was defeated by the Carthages and the Elyms. Dorieus fell during the fight. During the Arabians and the Normans were on Sicily, the well-fortified Erice served as a shelter for the inhabitants of Trapani.


The town nearly has the form of a triangle and you cannot really get lost, though sometimes it is difficult not to lose orientation in the small lanes. It is possible to make a round tour through the town; you are guided through this by signs. The tour starts at the Chiesa Matrice and leads to all significant buildings of the town.

When arriving in Erice and coming from the south (here you can also park your car), the first thing you see is the Porta Trapani, one of three Norman town-gates. From here you can walk straight to the Chiesa Matrice which is on the Western side of the town and only a few meters away from the Porta Trapani. Here in the entrance you can see a sign of the tour leading through Erice. The Chiesa Matrice certainly is the most important building of the town; it was built up in 1314. From here you can now start the little round tour. You will see the Castello Pépoli and the Castello die Venere on the other side of the town. Its location at a steep slope is rather breath-catching and those former constructions for defence are really interesting. Where now the Castello di Venere is situated, there was the temple of Venus in former times which gave its name to the castle later on. Further sights are the Chiesa San Giovanni Battista, the Chiesa del Carmine and the Museo Comunale, which shows exhibition objects from the Young stone age as well as from the Punian, Greek and Roman times. Furthermore you have a fantastic view far over the country and the sea when you are on the way from the Piazza San Giovanni up to Castle on the Eastside of the town.

sicily back sicily home sicily top sicily  next