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Archaeological sites in Sicily

The Greek site of Segesta in Sicily, Italy

Villas in Sicily near Segesta >>

Calatafimi (Segesta)Attentive passengers driving along the motorway from Palermo to Trapani will, at one point, start to wonder if they're hallucinating. "I’m not sure but I think I just saw a Greek Temple over there...." It will be a fleeting image but no hallucination: it's the Temple of Segesta.

If anyone needed yet more proof that the Greeks had a good eye for where to build, Segesta would lay any doubts to rest once and for all. Indeed, the setting of the Temple, perched on a hill is simply beautiful: totally unspoilt rolling green countryside and views that stretch right down to the sea.

The Doric Temple, which is roughly 75km from Palermo, was not actually built by the Greeks, as may have been suggested rather imprudently in the opening paragraph, but by the Elymians, an indigenous population of Sicily who also founded Erice. It is true, however, that Greek colonists probably contributed to the building of the Temple, which took place between 430 and 420 BC. It has 36 Doric columns, and is 61 metres long and 26 metres wide.

There is no roof, and it is thought that the locals were never able to entirely complete their place of worship due to an attack on the settlement of Segesta.

Up on top of a nearby hill, Monte Barbaro, sitting at 400m above sea level is the semicircular theatre, built around the same time. The wonderful views made stage scenery unnecessary as the surrounding countryside provided a natural backdrop to the action taking place on stage. Today, during the summer months, the theatre is used as a venue for Greek plays, concerts and other events. The walk up from the Temple may be a little taxing for some people but fortunately there is a shuttle bus.

Villas in Sicily near Segesta >>

 

Good ThinkingWhy not take a picnic with you, sit down under an olive tree and enjoy the delightful surroundings to the full? After lunch you could pop along to the nearby Terme Segestane, an open-air spa with a couple of hot-water pools. Open from June to September, it is also possible to take a dip in the hot-water river where both Heracles and Aeneas stopped off to recoup their energies!

 

Greek and other archaeological sites in Sicily:

 1/14 The Temple of Segesta rising amongst the Mediterranean maquis.  2/14 Segesta in the afternoon glow of a sunny day in August.  3/14 The sturdy columns of the Temple of Segesta.  4/14 We can recommend a guide to explain the secrets of Segesta.  5/14 The impressive facade of the Temple of Segesta.  6/14 Approaching the Temple of Segesta.  7/14 A perfect row of columns at the Temple of Segesta.  8/14 The Temple of Segesta is an impressive 61m long.  9/14 The Temple of Segesta seen from the road to the theatre.  10/14 The Temple of Segesta seen from the hill-top theatre.  11/14 The Gods! The theatre of Segesta has stunning views.  12/14 Our guide explaining the theatre at Segesta.  13/14 The theatre of Segesta hosts concerts and plays in the summer.  14/14 Stunning views from the theatre of Segesta.