Sicily's history makes it a unique and fascinating island with plenty of sites and interesting buildings to explore. Its strategic location in the centre of the Mediterranean has made it a melting pot of cultures, each leaving a distinctive imprint which is evident in the almost overwhelming mixture of architectural treasures and classical ruins.
In ancient Roman times, Sicily was known as Manga Greacia, which translates to Greater Greece, and the ancient Greek's influence is still evident today. They introduced vines and olives to this fertile island, some of the best preserved Greek temples in the world can still be found in Agrigento and the ancient Greek Theatre in the centre of Taormina is a must-see for visitors.
Over the years the island has been invaded by a host of nations, including Romans, Arabs and Normans. Even the British Administration briefly invaded in 1806. Its varied history means that Sicily's towns and villages have a unique feel with some interesting sites to explore. Villa Romana del Casale at Piazza Armerina has the world's largest collection of ancient Roman mosaics, which were unearthed in the 19th century, while the Normans' fascination with Arab architecture resulted in them expanding, altering and adding to many existing buildings. Fine examples of this can be seen mainly in Sicily's capital, Palermo, such as the Palazzo dei Normanni, originally an Arab Castle to which the Normans added towers, levels and the Capella Palatina, a delightfully ornate chapel that was completed in 1143. Other buildings in Palermo include the churches of San Giovanni degli Eremiti and San Cataldo, which are crowned with a series of red domes mounted on cubic towers - reminiscent of the modern Arab architecture you can see in North Africa today.