Top 10 historical sites in Sicily

Updated on Feb 28, 2018 by Alastair McClymont

Blog > Top 10 historical sites in Sicily

Step away from the beach for a day or two during your Sicily holidays and explore some of the incredible historical sites in Sicily.

For those embarking on holidays to Sicily, you’d be forgiven for fantasising about soft, golden sand and clear blue water awaiting you. Then there’s the magnificent Sicilian cuisine, with the likes of pasta with sardines and sweet and sticky cannoli a common feature on the plates of tourists. While this world of indulgence, rest and relaxation is easy to absorb, one of the most fascinating features of a trip to Sicily is the opportunity to explore the island’s ancient and historical identity. From Greek temples to marvellous mosaics, there are a plethora of awe-inspiring archaeological sites and ruins to be discovered across the island. And with that in mind, here’s our top 10 historical sites in Sicily guide…

 

1. Temples of Selinunte

An ancient Greek city on Sicily’s south-western coast, left abandoned for over 2,000 years, the Temples of Selinunte are the remains of a once thriving city. Five temples are on show here, centred amid a vast acropolis. The most famous is the Temple of Hera, dating back to 460 BC and recognised for its towering columns.

Image credit: Circumnavigation | Shutterstock

 

2. Ancient theatre of Taormina

Set high above the beautiful sweeping coastline below, Taormina’s theatre is the jewel in the crown of this picturesque old town. The panoramic views are reason enough to visit the theatre, reinforced by the detailed architecture and large viewing area. In fact, theatrical and operatic performances are still hosted here today, continuing a tradition of over 2,000 years.

Image credit: K. Roy Zerloch | Shutterstock

 

3. The Valley of the Temples, Agrigento

The first of several UNESCO World Heritage Sites on this list, Agrigento’s incredible Valley of the Temples provides the perfect introduction to Sicily’s past. This is the world’s largest archaeological site, with the seven Doric temples the key attractions, particularly the marvellous Temple of Concordia, considered one of the most notable structures of the Greek civilisation remaining today.

Image credit: Silky | Shutterstock

 

4. Ruins of Segesta

Fantastic examples of Doric architecture continue to flourish in the form of the archaeological park of Segesta. Discovered on the western tip of the island, the park’s remarkable main temple dates back to the 5th century BC, while a nearby ancient theatre is also brilliantly preserved, dating from the 4th century BC.

Image credit: Circumnavigation | Shutterstock

 

5. Neapolis Archaeological Park

Another of Sicily’s fascinating archaeological parks and part of Syracuse’s extended UNESCO World Heritage Site listing, this complex dates from as far back as the 5th century BC and is divided into three sections. The first explores the city’s ancient quarry, while the second showcases the park’s spectacular Greek Theatre, one of largest in the world. The final section is that of the Roman Amphitheatre, once the host of gladiatorial battles.

Image credit: Harvey Barrison | Flickr

 

6. Rocky Necropolis of Pantalica

These unique rock-cut chamber tombs populate a collection of cemeteries which operated over 3,000 years ago. Today recognised as a UNESCO World Heritage Site along with much of Syracuse, there are up to 4,000 of these fascinating tombs, 1,000 of which are encountered in the necropolis of Filiporto and another 1,000 at the North necropolis.

Image credit: S.Leggio | Shutterstock

 

7. Regional Archaeological Museum, Palermo

For an all-rounded insight into the ancient history of Sicily, the Regional Archaeological Museum in Palermo is an ideal visit. Home to a comprehensive collection of Ancient Greek art, as well as several treasures from the Valley of the Temples and Selinunte, the museum will fascinate culture vultures and history buffs hoping to learn more about the  top ancient sites in Sicily.

Image credit: Bepsy | Shutterstock

 

8. Solunto Archaeological Park

Perched above the fishing town of Porticello at the foot Mount Catalfamo is Solunto, first established as far back as 700 BC. The gymnasium remains in the form of its standing columns, joined by several cisterns and civilian homes; the latter decorated with paintings on both the walls and floors.

Image credit: Sarah Murray | Flickr

 

9. Villa Romana del Casale, Piazza Armerina

A Roman villa built in the early 4th century and today awarded UNESCO World Heritage Site status, the Villa Romana del Casale boasts one of the world’s largest and most ornate collections of Roman mosaics. Among the most famous of the mosaics are the ‘Bikini Girls’ found on the floor of the Chamber of the Ten Maidens, and the ‘Little Hunt’ showing hunters using dogs to capture game.

Image credit: luigi nifosi | Shutterstock

 

10. Ancient Fortress of Cefalu

Set above the glorious beaches and attractive old town, Cefalu’s fortress ruins are centred round the Temple of Diana, considered among the oldest structures still standing in Sicily. The walls and battlements of the fortress were reinstated during the 11th and 12th centuries when the Normans ruled the island. While the ruins here are of great interest, the view across the town below is unbeatable.

Image credit: naten | Shutterstock

 

Fancy exploring some of these ancient sites for yourself? Plan your 2018 holiday to Sicily now and prepare yourself for some history and culture.

 

Related Articles

 
 

10 things to do in Sicily without going to the beach Read more

FEATURED
 

Top 5 Sicily adventures Read more

FEATURED
 

Sicily Top Ten Read more

 

Recent Articles

 

San Vito Lo Capo, one of the best beaches in Sicily Read more

 

Teatro Greco Taormina 2018 Read more

 

What to wear on holiday in Sicily Read more

 

Top luxury villas in Sicily Read more

 

Follow us on Social Media