What it is and where it is
When one sees the remains of an ancient temple or amphitheater in Sicily, one immediately thinks of wonderful Greek finds. But this is not always the case. We are in a land rich in history and art, and always a crossroads of peoples and cultures. Today, for example, you will discover that the remains of Segesta, often told as "Greek," have an entirely different origin. Here, on the summit of Mount Barbaro, stood the ancient city of the Elymians, here the Punic and Greek peoples of Sicily met.
Why it is special
This land has been contested and experienced by many different peoples. What makes Segesta special, then, are many historical and archaeological reasons. The most obvious are certainly two architectural masterpieces of rare beauty, a synthesis of Greek, Roman, Carthaginian and, above all, Elymian cultures, but there is also much more: in the park you can also admire the remains of a castle, a mosque and a church from the medieval age.
Not to be missed
The theater and temple are definitely the most striking elements of the Segesta excavations. The first one encountered, outside the walls, is the temple. The mighty colonnade supports the tympanum and bounds a rectangular area. Entering the archaeological park proper, on top of Mount Barbaro, is a sloping tiered amphitheater, overlooking a natural spectacle that enchants: the green of the hills fades and blends into the blue of the sky, leaving the eyes and mind free to wander in search of a horizon that reaches far into the distance.
A bit of history
Segesta has a very long history: founded in the 5th century B.C., it came under Carthaginian control at the end of the century, was destroyed by Agathocles of Syracuse in the next century, and then revitalized and renovated in Roman times. The temple is from the 5th century BC, the theater from the 2nd century BC. The historical events of Segesta continued for many more centuries, as evidenced by the findings of a Muslim village, a Norman-Swabian one of its castle.
Rome granted many benefits to Segesta during the time it was under its rule. Such benevolence was motivated by two reasons. The first, purely historical, concerns Segesta's choice to side with the Romans before the outbreak of the Punic Wars; the second has its roots in myth: it would be here that Aeneas stopped over during his flight from Troy, and here some of his companions would remain, founding, precisely, Segesta.