Si Trova: ad Erice
Lat: 38° 2' 8.551790" N - Long: 12° 35' 27.20375" E
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The Castle of Venus is surrounded by cliffs that have definitely contributed to making it one of the most impregnable in Sicily.
It consists of two distinct parts: a quadrangular outpost with three towers, called "Torri del Balio", also with a quadrangular plan, and the castle proper, separated from the outpost by a deep abyss, which was bypassed by a drawbridge, replaced in the fifteenth century by an access ramp that still exists today.
The structure is located in the same place where in ancient times the temple of Venus stood, well known throughout the Mediterranean for jeròdulai: beautiful priestesses who lived there practicing the art of sacred prostitution.
A cylindrical well is still visible, called "Pozzo di Venere", which is believed to be a pit in which the remains of sacrifices were placed in honor of the goddess.
The Byzantines probably already had to fortify the summit of Mount Erice, as did the Arabs.
The normans in 1167 made changes to the fortress and gave it the structure that we can still admire today, although much altered over the centuries.
For the construction of the castle the boulders that were already part of the ancient temple were used, of which there is no trace left.
In the castle resided the representatives of the royal authority: the Bajulo civil judge and tax collector (from which the towers, called "del Balio"); the castle also served as a prison.
At the end of the nineteenth century the structure was in a state of complete decay; the count Agostino Pepoli reached an agreement with the town administration according to which he would have reclaimed the entire area at his own expense and would have rebuilt the towers, which would then remain his property; the pentagonal tower and the crenellated curtain were therefore rebuilt, and the public garden of the Balio was built.
The latter, together with the Pepoli Tower, built by the count north-west of the castle, has become one of the symbols of Erice.
Inside the irregular walls of the castle you can admire some fragments of the ancient sanctuary and a large limestone slab with the Habsburg Eagle of Spain, the remains of the ancient prison and the ruins of the castle's dwelling.
From the castle you can enjoy a vast and enchanting panorama.
For info and reservations tel: 366 6712832; Entrance times: from 1 January to the last Sunday of March, weekdays: by telephone booking (to be made at least 24 hours in advance); Saturdays and holidays: 10:00 to 16:00 from the next day last Sunday of March to May 31: every day from 10:00 to 18:00; from 1 June to 14 July: every day from 10:00 to 19:00; from 15 July to 14 September: every day from 10:00 to 20:00; from 15 September to the last Sunday of October: every day from 10:00 to 19:00; from the day following the last Sunday of October to December 31: weekdays only by telephone booking (to be made at least 24 hours in advance); Saturdays and holidays from 10:00 to 16:00 Full admission ticket: € 5.00.
What happened in Sicily: 23 September
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