As we had visited Selinunte, it only seemed fair that we also went to Segesta as well.
So Segesta is famous for being one of the major cities of the Elymian peoples who were indigenous to Sicily (one of the three). As I said in my last post on Selinunte, Segesta and Selinunte were at war with each other quite a few times in their history. Historians think it was because Segesta was trying to gain a port on the Tyrrenian Sea. In 307 BC Agathocles sacked the city, changing its name to Dikeopolis and from the flat area behind the temple, catapulted 8,000 of Segesta’s inhabitants into the ravine below. When we were there, I looked down the ravine and it would have been a pretty gruesome death.
We drove there from Sciacca and it was an easy and quick drive. We arrived at the parking lot and got into line to buy our ticket just as a large number of Ducatis pulled in. We heard them a good couple of minutes before they arrived and man did they look cool. Most of the bikes were red, and mainly Monsters or some form of off-road variety. Either way, it was a pretty cool sight.
There are two main attractions at Segesta: the Temple, and the Amphitheater, both of which are beautiful and worth seeing. I really enjoyed the hike between the two as well.
The temple is ‘unusually well preserved’. It’s Doric and built on a slight hill. Interestingly, while the temple appears to have perfectly straight lines, they are actually curvatures. The corner columns are slightly thicker than the others, and lean towards the centre. All the columns bulge in the middle. These curvatures were carefully calculated to make the temple look perfectly straight from a distance, as if they were perfectly straight, it would look distorted from a distance.
The temple is an unfinished building, but that doesn’t stop it from being an impressive, and significant monument.
I think the theatre is a more interesting building. It is part of a series of buildings from different periods of history and the fact that they’re all jumbled together makes it so compelling. The ruins of the city of Segesta are on top of Mount Barbaro, and this is where the theatre is situated. There are a number of different excavations from pre-Roman cave dwellings to medieval houses and castles. On the way to the theatre, you also pass a remains of a 12th century church, mosque and castle. Following the path upwards, you eventually emerge at the top of the theatre and are met with spectacular views. With a diameter of 63m, it could hold 3,200 spectators.