Segesta Archeological Site Reviews
Experience the Elymian people Jun 10, 2005
The civilization of Sicily is believed to have its origins from several groups of ancient people considered as 'indigenous' inhabitants. One of these groups of people are called the Elymi. In legend, after the fall of Troy, some Trojans settled on the western tip of Sicily. Along with the people already settled there, they became known as the Elymi, and the towns they developed were Segesta and Erice. Not much is known about the Elymi and they remain a mysterious people.
The Segesta Archeological site represents some remnant of the Elymi dating to around the early 5th BC. While the connection of the Elymian people to Troy is yet to be validated, it makes some sense given the Greek style architecture found here. There is a long period of conflict here over the centuries (Greeks, Carthaginians, Romans, Muslims). The Carthage/Greek conflict is documented, but not much is known of Roman occupation. Archaeological excavations have also found the remains of a Muslim necropolis and Mosque dating to the late 12th century, nearby the remains of an early 13th century Norman castle. The mosque was destroyed in 13th century. Segesta was abandoned in the late 13th century, most likely for nearby Erice (Eryx).
The influence of Greek, Phoenician or Assyrian influence seems most evident in visiting this place. There are two major points of interest here:
1.) The Doric Temple is one of the best preserved of its kind in the world. It's actually an unfinished work and the purpose unknown. The temple is just over 60 meters long and 26 meters wide, with a total of 36 Doric columns enclosing the structure. There are fourteen columns on each side of the building and six columns across the front and back. The roof was never constructed.
2.) The Amphitheatre, sitting upon a hilltop location on Mount Barbaro and built around the same time as the temple, is impressive not for its size, but location. At 62 meters in diameter it is not impressively large, but the views it offers are. From this vantage point the landscape of Sicily in rolling hills and valleys is present. It's simply a most spectacular background for an amphitheatre.
There are establishments nearby to enjoy views of the temple and landscapes here, experience some Sicilian culture in music and dance, and savor some Italian wine and food. Segesta is one of those destinations that has to be experienced to fully appreciate. It's rather a unique kind of place and the Segesta Archeological Site is an opportunity to experience some culture of Sicily and heritage of the Elymian people.
Directions: By car (A29 highway from Palermo to Trapani - exit to Segesta and continue for Calatafimi Segesta); By train(Trapani railway Station - 25 minutes arriving to Segesta); By bus (Trapani Tarantola Bus Service departs every hour to Segesta).
Part of the L'Avventura Dell Italia travel blog
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