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Erice and the Castle

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July 24, 2021

Erice: The town founded by the Trojans

3679 / 5000 Risultati della traduzione Among the beauties that can be admired in the surroundings of Trapani there is also Erice, a Trapani municipality that stands on the mountain of the same name and from which you can enjoy an exceptional view of the Gulf of Trapani. It is a small medieval village, which however embodies decades of history, culture and traditions.

From Trojans to Arab influences

According to the historian Thucydides, Erice was founded by the Trojans who needed a place to settle after fleeing to the Mediterranean Sea. The name of the newborn town derives from Erix, a mythological character killed by Heracles and son of Aphrodite and Bute.

It is one of the most important cities of the Eimi, a population born from the merger of the Trojan exiles with an indigenous people found in the area. A fortified city in the period of the First Punic War at the behest of Amilcare Barca, who later transferred part of the people of Erice to the neighboring territories for the foundation of Drepanon (today’s Trapani).

In Roman times Erice was an important center, where Venus Erycina (the first Roman goddess resembling Aphrodite) was worshiped. In the Byzantine period there is not much news on the fate of the city, which however remained active on the economic level.

During the Arab domination, the mountain on which Erice stands was renamed Gebel-Hamed and most likely was not even populated. It returned to be inhabited in the Norman era, with the construction of new buildings (both houses and churches), while it was the site of important turmoil during the Spanish domination. Its original name of Erice takes it back in 1934, given that until then (starting from the Norman era) it had been called Monte San Giuliano.

The castle of Erice and other places of interest

Among the many buildings that can be visited in Erice, the Castle of Venus stands out above all: a Norman-style building dating back to the twelfth century and which stands on an isolated cliff in the south-eastern corner of the summit of Mount Erice. The castle is dedicated to Venus Erycina, as it stands on the remains of an ancient temple where the cult of the female divinity of fertility was practiced (which has changed various names over the years). This fortress was used as such by the Aragonese viceroys, while when it passes to the Bourbons it becomes a prison.

In place of the current staircase there was a drawbridge, which connected the castle to the rest of the mountain top. The facade of the castle is dominated by Ghibelline merlons, while the wall of the complex follows – with recesses and protrusions – the outline of the cliff. You can see the entrance to a secret tunnel, which was underground with respect to the disappeared buildings and led out of the castle. A building that therefore contains much of the history of today’s Trapani municipality.

In addition to the castle in the village of Erice it is possible to visit various religious buildings, among which the Church of San Martino (built at the behest of Ruggero the Norman and characterized by refined interior decorations and beautiful frescoes) should be mentioned. In terms of importance, however, the religious building that stands out above the others (and deserves to be visited) is the Cathedral of Erice (dedicated to Maria Assunta).

Activities to do if you are in Erice

During a stay in Erice, it is advisable to immerse yourself in the streets of this ancient medieval village or take a walk along the walls built in its defense and admire a spectacular panorama. Furthermore, near the castle there are Giardini del Balio (a sort of frame of the fortress) and several very well preserved medieval towers (the most famous is Torretta Pepoli).

Among the many places of interest in Erice there is also the Spanish Quarter, a fortress located in a decentralized position with respect to the town center and which was begun in the 17th century (without ever being completed) to house the Spanish soldiers. The Museum of Ancient Crafts is also very interesting, for a location that therefore offers attractions to meet various needs.

What and where to eat

A typical food of the area are the Genovesi di Erice, delicious sweets stuffed with custard to be tried strictly in the Trapani municipality to taste its real goodness. In Erice there is no shortage of restaurants in the streets of the center, where it is possible to taste the typical dishes of Trapani cuisine (from arancine to pane cunzato, or durum wheat bread cooked in wood and seasoned with tomatoes, pecorino cheese, anchovies and oil).

And finally, the beach of Erice

The beach of San Giuliano belongs to the territory of Erice, characterized by a shallow and sandy bottom and bathed by clear water. It is one of the most sandy beaches in Trapani which, due to its characteristics, is recommended for families with children.

How to get there: cable car from Trapani to Erice

Erice is easily reachable both by car and by bus, but there is a third possibility which is probably the most comfortable and the most suggestive. In fact, a cable car leaves from Trapani to Erice, with which it is possible to reach this location in just 10 minutes. A vehicle that allows you to avoid traffic and admire the vast panorama.

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