From Segesta to Selinunte
Ancient Greece has never been so close. An excursion from Segesta to Selinunte, passing through the Cusa Quarry Site, will show you why.
When we arrive at Segesta, the first thing we notice is the temple on the plateau between the two peaks of the mountain where the ancient city stood in the 5th and 4th centuries BC. Of this city today we can visit the Temple, the Theatre and the Sanctuary in contrada Mango.
The Doric temple, magnificent for its layout and position, ennobles the place where it stands. Due to its remarkable artistic quality and stylistic characteristics, the temple can be dated to the last thirty years of the 5th century.
Discover the temple of Segesta on the izi.Travel audio tour
The Theatre is located on the northern slopes of the Monte Barbaro. Fairly well-preserved, it has a cavea of about 63 m in diameter, partly cut into the rock itself and partly built and supported by a wall of limestone blocks. The upper part of the cavea, now lost, may have been surrounded by a massive semicircular retaining wall. Under the cavea a cave, considered sacred, was discovered, where probably Elymian rites were performed.
The Sanctuary that was brought to light outside the town, near the Contrada Mango, is surrounded by a temenos (wall) and roughly squared blocks. There must have been several sacred buildings inside the sanctuary, as evidenced by the discovery of many architectural parts (capitals and columns), as well as a wealth of pottery dating from the 8th to the 5th century BC, some with inscriptions or graffiti.
Recent excavations have revealed the remains of the medieval city as well as Islamic and Norman-Swabian ones.
Let us now visit the “factory” of temples. The archaeological area of the Rocche di Cusa, located 13 km from Selinunte, is the place from which limestone columns were carved to build its temple. The site, sometimes used for performances, retains all the charm of the past. Walking among the columns, still sketched or lying, waiting to be placed, is an exciting journey back in time.Here you will find more information.
Here we are at last in Selinunte, imposing for its landscape and its cultural breath. The excavations of this archaeological site are very extensive and to facilitate the visit it has been equipped with a transport service with electric vehicles.
The city of Selinunte extended over quite a large area; here, on the eastern hill, we can admire the three temples named E, G, F.
Temple G, located further north (on the right as we enter the archaeological area), was intended to be one of the most imposing religious buildings of classical architecture, similar to the temple of Zeus Olympius in the Valley of the Temples at Agrigento. It failed to be completed before the fall of Selinunte. Its exceptional height reached about 30 metres. The long period of construction led to the use of a more advanced Doric style in the western part.
Temple F is the smallest, it must have had six columns on the fronts and 14 on the sides; the cella is preceded by a pronaos (front vestibule) and the opisthodomos (rear portico) is missing.
Temple E is Doric in form, with six columns on the fronts and 15 on the sides; the cella is preceded by a pronaos, supported by two columns, and is followed by the adyton, a sacred, reserved and inaccessible part, raised above the cella. Temple E, which collapsed in an earthquake, was raised in 1960. From this temple were salvaged the splendid metopes with mythological motifs now preserved in the Archaeological Museum of Palermo.
Traces of two other temples have been discovered under the raised temple.
Going south, towards the other ruins, we come across the remains of the mighty fortifications that surrounded the city from the Archaic period. Now we reach the Punic city: a sacred area dedicated to sacrifices and the settlement with frame walls; on the floors are the signs of the goddess Tanit, the caduceus and the Bull god.
The series of temples continues with the remains of Temple O, Doric, and Temple A, similar to the previous one, both of uncertain date (between 490 and 460 B.C.). The dwellings and shops in this area testify, along with the temples, to its dual public and private function. There are also the remains of two other cult buildings, the Megaron and Temple B with Ionic columns and a Doric frieze.
In the centre of this vast space, the temenos, stands the grandiose Temple C, begun in 560 BC and raised in part around 1939 with the usual anastylosis. Archaic Doric, it shows the remains of its six columns on the front and 17 on the sides; the raised cella is preceded by an adyton with four columns.
Three metopes from the pediment are preserved in the A. Salinas Regional Archaeological Museum in Palermo and represent the finest examples of Selinuntine sculpture. In the same museum is part of the clay, geometric and floral decoration of the tympanum, culminating in the magnificent head of a Gorgon in coroplast that adorned the pediment of the temple.
A little to the north, we can see the remains of Temple D, similar to temple C. At the south-eastern end of the temenos a large L-shaped portico enclosed the whole area. The north-western part of the acropolis was used as a marketplace, with shops, agora and residential buildings around it. Continuing northwards, we come to the gate that closed the acropolis, with various towers and fortifications, the fulcrum of the entire Selinuntean defensive system.
Discover more about the Archaeological Parks of Segesta, Selinunte and Lilybaeum.