ARCHAEOLOGICAL PARKS OF SEGESTA, SELINUNTE E LILIBEO (TRAPANI)

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Do you want to take a stroll surrounded by the most unspoilt nature or by the open sea? In Sicily, there are 14 archaeological parks. They are all different, showing finds of all types and from all eras. Following this route, we’ll explore the three archaeological sites in the Trapani area. It will be a discovery journey of ancient and various Mediterranean cultures.

Let’s start with the archaeological park of Segesta. We are in the same name archaeological area, in Contrada Barbaro, in Calatafimi. Segesta most ancients dwellings date back to VI sec. B.C. The town had a long time of prosperity. Its history extended to the Byzantine era, then the Muslim era (there is a village with a Mosque), and the Norman-Swabian era( a settlement with a castle at the top).

The Temple has a stunning scenic impact. It has a Sicilian Doric style. The structure remained unfinished, maybe due to a series of events dating back to the end of the V century (according to other experts, it was built right like that because dedicated to a not-Greek cult). The Theater is very well known too. It dates back to the second half of the II century B.C. In this era, the town was already under Roman hegemony. The structure has 63 meters in diameter and was restored several times in the 19th century.

Let’s move now towards another point of the park: the Mokarta archaeological area. It is in the homonymous district, in Salemi. The place represents one of the most important prehistoric remains in Sicily. It is a village set on the top of Mokarta Hill. It dates back to the Bronze era (XIII-XI sec. a. C.). It is made up of some circular plan huts with a double entrance. On the slopes of the hill, there’s a wide necropolis with tombs carved into the rocks.

The park includes the Archaeological area of San Miceli (Contrada Vado, Salemi). The place and its Basilica represent one of the most interesting remains of the Early Christian period in western Sicily (IV-VI d. C.). The Monte Castellazzo archaeological area (Poggioreale) stands at an altitude of 614 mt. It is one of the most important indigenous settlements in the Belice Valley. The Entella Archaeological area is a very ancient fortress (Late Eneolithic). Its old history was influenced by the famous Tucidide work ( VI, 2) about the ethnic composition of west-Sicilian cultures. The Scurati Caves (Custonaci) are an ancient prehistoric settlement and a speleological site of worldwide importance. We can visit the Grotta Mangiapane (or “Uffizi’s Grotto”), which is 70 meters high, 13 meters wide and 50 meters deep.

We are now ready to visit the Selinunte, Cusa Caves and Pantelleria Archaeological sites. Let’s start from the Selinunte Archaeological area. It is 270 hectares wide and is one of the largest Mediterranean sites. The place reflects a sophisticated plan made by the Greeks when they founded the town. The Acropolis is the sacred area on the southern headland. Here we can see six temples (O, A, B, R, C, D) and, the town centre, is enclosed by massive fortifications walls. The Agorà is the political and social centre of the city. On the western hill, we can admire three temples (E, F, G). But we can also visit the area with the Malophoros Sanctuary, the Hera Matronale Temple, the Temple M and the Necropolis. Selinunte has a remarkable archaeological heritage. Its characteristic is a sacred, public and private architecture. But it also can boast a considerable landscape and natural heritage. But that’s not all! The park also includes the Cave di Cusa, active from the 6th century BC until the end of the city’s life. Stone was extracted from here to make the city’s works, such as the capitals and columns of the temples. The Cusa quarries are unrivalled in terms of size and incredible state of preservation, which makes it possible to analyse all phases of stone processing.

Another must-see is the Museum of the Satyr in Mazara del Vallo. The Dancing Satyr of Mazara is the Mediterranean beauty’s symbol. It is a precious bronze statue from the 4th century B.C., belonging to the school of Praxiteles. It was found in two phases between 1997 and 1998 by the Mazara motor trawler Capitan Ciccio. The Museum also exhibits other finds from the Sicilian Channel, such as a bronze fragment of an elephant’s foot from the Hellenistic period. The selection of transport amphorae dates from Archaic to Medieval times. The last park site is the Castello Grifeo (Partanna), one of the best-preserved fortresses in western Sicily (for other castles in the area, click here). Today’s architecture dates back around 1400. Since 2007 it has housed the Prehistory Regional Museum of Belice.

Are you feeling dizzy? Get some rest and gather some energy for the last park in the Trapani area. Let us now visit the Archaeological Park of Lilybaeum. The centre of the park is the archaeological area of Capo Boeo. It is located on the homonym Marsala promenade. The ancient Lilybaeum extended as far as the sea, and this part still preserves part of the inhabited area. Carthage founded the city after the destruction of Mozia (397 BC). It is famous for the imposing fortifications that made it an impregnable military base. The Romans besieged it for nine years before conquering it in the Battle of the Egadi (241 BC). The battle marked the end of the First Punic War.

In a 19th-century wine establishment in the park (the “Baglio Anselmi”), we visit the Museo Archeologico Regionale Lilibeo di Marsala. The museum was founded in 1986 to house the wreck of the Punic vessel and explain the ancient city’s history.

We sail towards the last stage and follow in the footsteps of the ancient Punics. We arrive in Favignana. Below the present cemetery is the Grotta del Pozzo. The place is famous for a Punic inscription that deals with a funerary subject (2nd-1st century BC). The entrance to the cave is wide and, in the past, there was a large staircase. Today we can still admire a few old steps. In more recent years, a well has been dug. Actually, the cave’s name comes right from it.

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