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Segesta

Villas in Sicily near Segesta

SegestaThe ancient Elymians must have been great aesthetes if their choice of sites is any indication. They erected Segesta on Mount Barbaro, thus founding the third Elymian town in Sicily along with Erice and Entella, Set on the edge of a deep canyon in the midst of wild, desolate mountains, its huge V century BC Doric temple is one of the world’s most magical ancient sites. On windy days its 40 giant columns are said to act like an organ, producing mysterious notes.

The city was in constant conflict with neighbouring Selinunte, founded by the Greeks, whose destruction (409 BC) the Elymians pursued with bloodthirsty determination and obtained through the intervention of their Carthaginian allies. Nonetheless, Agrigento’s tyrant Agathocles is responsible for Selinunte’s final destruction. He punished the Elymians for not supporting him against Syracuse slaughtering over 10.000 people, and repopulated the town with Greeks.

Strange as it may seem, the Elymians are responsible for the erection of the two outstanding surviving Greek building in Segesta: the theatre high up on the mountain, with commanding views out to Castellammare del Golfo, and the never completed Doric temple. The latter dates from around 430 BC and is remarkably well preserved. According to historians, it was built to impress Athenian ambassadors, who had come to Segesta to establish an alliance against the powerful Syracuse, and was left unfinished after their departure. From mid-June to mid-September Segesta’s theatre hosts performances of Greek or Roman plays.

Villas in Sicily near Segesta

The Valley of Segesta

The 36 Doric Columns of the Greek Temple

The Greek Theatre

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