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Must-See Historical Sights in Sicily, Italy

The ancient amphitheatre of Taormina, Sicily, is still in use today
The ancient amphitheatre of Taormina, Sicily, is still in use today | © Chris Rout / Alamy
Photo of Gillian McGuire
13 September 2021
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Sicily is so full of historic sites that you could spend a lifetime on the island and probably still not see them all. From Unesco Heritage sites like Greek temples and Roman mosaics to Arab-Norman churches, we have narrowed down the must-see historic sites for you.

Want to enjoy Sicily’s historical sights? Book TRIPS by Culture Trip’s 10-day adventure to enjoy a walking tour of Palermo, learn about the town of Taormina and stay in a boutique hotel just five minutes from the ancient temple of Apollo.

Palermo Cathedral

Cathedral, Church
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Palermo - South portal of Cathedral or Duomo and west towers
© jozef sedmak / Alamy
The main church for the city of Palermo is a showy example of Arab-Norman architecture. Construction began in the 12th century on the site, and, through the years, there have been additions and renovations, which incorporated gothic, baroque and neoclassical details. Inside, you can visit the royal tombs of Norman kings and their family members. Don’t miss the Byzantine-style jewel-studded crown of Constance of Aragon, wife of Frederick II.

Villa Romana del Casale

Building
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Mosaic in the Roman Villa of Casale, near Piazza Armerina, Sicily, Italy.
© Heritage Image Partnership Ltd / Alamy
This fourth-century Roman villa is home to some of the most famous mosaics in Itay. One that particularly deserves your attention is the surprisingly modern Coronation of the Winner, better known as the Bikini Girls. Rows of girls in red bikinis are portrayed throwing a ball and long jumping, all created with tiny squares of coloured glass and stone. The villa is enormous, with room after room, once home to an important Roman family who ruled this part of Sicily.

Necropolis of Pantalica

Historical Landmark
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Italy, Sicily, Sortino, Pantalica necropolis, rock hewn tumbs dating from 13th to 7th centuries B.C., registered World Heritage by UNESCO
© Hemis / Alamy

Split between two separate sites, the Necropolis of Pantalica is a remarkably well-preserved burial ground that dates back thousands of years, carved into the limestone hills. You can reach them from two different towns, by foot via Sortino, walking through the Mediterranean scrub vegetation, or by car via Ferla. Visit the Archaeological Museum in Syracuse to see the pottery and tools that were excavated from the site in the late 1800s.

Greek Theatre in Taormina

Cathedral, Theater
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The Greek Theatre in Taormina, Sicily, Italy
© Jan Wlodarczyk / Alamy
Wind your way all the way to the top left corner of this hilltop town to find the ancient Greek amphitheatre that was constructed in the third century BCE (which actually makes it Roman) and is still used today. The views of Mount Etna and the Ionian Sea are unparalleled. Back in the day, there was space for more than 5,000 people on the carved stone seats and benches. Today, there are modern seats, from which you get to enjoy operas, symphonies and film festivals during the summer months.

Falcone–Borsellino Airport

Architectural Landmark
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Falcone Borsellino International Airport Palermo Sicily Italy
© Neil Setchfield / Alamy

If you want to understand modern Sicilian and Italian history, you need to know the names Giovanni Falcone and Paolo Borsellino. Both men were anti-mafia judges, who worked their entire careers fighting the stronghold of organised crime. They were killed within weeks of each other in separate bombings, during the summer of 1992. The Palermo airport is named for them, and you should seek out the memorial plaque by sculptor Tommaso Geraci outside the departure hall. You will find schools, public buildings and piazzas bearing the name of these brave men all over Sicily.

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