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Erice

Villas in Sicily near Erice

EriceErice stands on the legendary Mount Eryx (571m). A naturally fortified Elymian city, Erice hosted one of the most famous pagan sanctuaries in the Mediterranean, dedicated to the goddess of love and fertility, named Astarte by the Phoenicians, Aphrodite by the Greeks and Venus Ericina by the Romans. The goddess was worshipped as protector of sailors and venerated by all Mediterranean peoples. Her temple was regularly attended by pilgrims and believers. In Roman times, in spite of losing its importance as a fortified site, the sanctuary was put at the head of a religious confederation including 17 Sicilian cities, and protected by a Roman garrison. Under Tiberius, the whole sacred area was restored, thus maintaining its original religious importance. According to Virgil, who mentions the temple in the Aeneid, the female priests practised sacred prostitution with worshippers inside the temple itself. Despite countless invasions, the sacred site remained inviolate, to be replaced by the new Norman fortress in the Middle Age.

Thanks to the alliance between the Elymians and the Phoenicians, Erice became a Carthaginian stronghold and was stormed by Pyrrhus In 277 BC, to be reconquered by the Carthaginians in 275 BC.Later, it was conquered by the Romans, in 247 B.C., during the Punic Wars. No remarkable historical information exist on Byzantine Erice: the town was still inhabited and its fertile surroundings were scattered with farms. Towards 831 A.D., the stronghold was occupied by the Arabs and called Gebel-Hamed. Under the Normans, in the XII century, a period of great prosperity began; the town was repopulated and underwent radical transformations, which gave it its present-day medieval appearance.

Since July 2004, Erice is reachable from Trapani with the new cableway, from which you can enjoy a breathtaking view of both Trapani with its salt-pans and the Aegadian Islands. Nonetheless, the two panoramic roads going up to Erice, crossed by thousands of visitors and travellers since ‘700, still keep their appeal.

Villas in Sicily near Erice

Early morning view of Cliffs and Coast from Erice in Sicily

Norman Castle in Erice

Torri Pepoli

The Cableway in Erice

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