On a mountain summit 750 metres above the Mediterranean is Erice, the ancient town of Eryx. The well-fortified walls of its fortress once protected one of the oldest cities in Sicily. According to legend the Trojan, Aeneas, son of Aphrodite, established a town here after fleeing from the Greeks.
First, the goddess of love, Astarte, was worshipped here followed by the Greek goddess Aphrodite, and then Venus who was worshipped by the Romans. Thus, this location became a kind of ‘love mountain’ and a popular destination, especially with male pilgrims, as it no doubt appealed to their more romantic nature.
The medieval city centre of Monte San Guiliano, as today’s Erice was named by the Normans, has for many centuries remained almost unchanged.
From the fortress, the Castello, there are clear views of the Sicilian coastline and Trapani Harbor, and far out across the Mediterranean.
Beneath the walls of the fortress, in the 20th century Erice also became known as a research centre for both meteorology and oceanography.
Erice is far more than just an historically rich settlement situated on a mountaintop. In the romantic ruins of the fortress above the former Acropolis, the atmosphere of ancient times still lives on.
Global Treasures - History's Most Protected Monuments - Heritage is our legacy from the past, what we live today, and what we pass on to future generations. Our cultural and natural heritage are both irreplaceable sources of life and inspiration. Places as unique and diverse as the wilds of East Africa's Serengeti, the Pyramids of Egypt, the Great Barrier Reef in Australia and the Baroque cathedrals of Latin America make up our world's heritage. Join us as we explore one of these protected monuments.