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The Castle of Venus

The Castle of Venus – Castello di Erice in Italian – is a structure that stands on a cliff isolated on the summit of Mount Erice – dominating the city of the same name. The castle is built on the ruins of an Elimo-Phoenician-Roman temple and from its large balconies you can see on one side the coast of Palermo while on the other the town of Trapani.

The History of the building

With the passage of time the Temple dedicated to the veneration of female fertility assumed different names according to the subsequent domination of the place. First the Phoenician cult of the Goddess Astarte adored by the Elimi, later the Goddess Venus for the Ancient Romans. The current structure has medieval origins when the Normans, established for some time on the island, built the castle using fragments of the ancient temple previously present. The fortress was “Piazza Reale” for the Aragonese viceroys until the 16th century. In the early decades of the nineteenth century it passed to the municipality, which at the end of the century gave it in concession to Count Agostino Pepoli in exchange for a restoration. [2] Archaeological excavations were carried out in search of the temple from the Cultrera in 1934-36. Most of the findings are preserved in the Pepoli Museum in Trapani.

The architecture used

The castle was connected to the rest of the summit by a drawbridge, later replaced by the current steps. The fa├žade of the castle, turned to the west, is dominated by Ghibelline merlons, and the wall of the complex follows, with recesses and protrusions, the contour of the cliff. The entrance to a secret tunnel can be observed, which was subterranean to the buildings that had disappeared and led out of the castle. In the steep rock wall, in the north, rises a wall, attributed to Daedalus, composed of twelve horizontal rows of neatly squared stones overlapping “opus rectum”

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