Aerosols have been found to be nearly ubiquitous in substellar atmospheres. Evidence for the composition and conditions whereby these aerosols form remains limited (Cushing et al. 2006, Saumon & Marley 2008, Burningham 2021). Theoretical models and observations of muted spectral features suggest that silicate clouds play an important role in exoplanets between at least 950 and 2,100 K (Gao et al. 2020). However, some giant planets are thought to be hot enough to avoid condensation of even the most refractory elements (Lothringer et al. 2018, Kitzmann et al. 2018). Here, we present the near-UV transmission spectrum of an ultra-hot Jupiter WASP-178b (~2,450 K), that exhibits significant NUV absorption indicating the presence of gaseous refractory elements in the middle atmosphere. This short-wavelength absorption is among the largest spectral features ever observed in an exoplanet in terms of atmospheric scale heights. Bayesian retrievals indicate the broadband UV feature on WASP-178b is caused by refractory elements including silicon and magnesium bearing species, which are the precursors to condensate clouds at lower temperatures. Silicon in particular has not been detected in exoplanets before, but the presence of SiO in WASP-178b is consistent with theoretical expectation as the dominant Si-bearing species at high temperatures. These observations allow us to re-interpret previous observations of HAT-P-41b and WASP-121b to suggest that silicate cloud formation begins on exoplanets with equilibrium temperatures between 1,950 and 2,350 K.