Sciacca has ancient origins. There are thermal springs here, and around the seventh century BC the site became a thermal spa resort for the Greeks of ancient Selinunte, known as Thermae Selinuntinae. For Sicily's Roman rulers the town was, as well as a spa, an important hub for their efficient mail service, and for the Arabs it was a trading port with North African connections. The town's present name is probably Arab in origin. Sciacca continued to prosper and enjoyed a period of particular grandeur in the sixteenth century, when some fine buildings were constructed. Nowadays its main business is fishing.
Present-day Sciacca spreads over different levels of the hillside. Down by the sea is the big fishing harbour, along with a few houses and seafood restaurants. The town's main square, the panoramic Piazza Scandaliato, is on the next level up, with the heart of the historic centre spreading uphill behind it. Higher up the slope are the town's castle and the upper perimeter of the old city walls. Beyond the old settlement lie sprawling and unattractive modern areas.