The archaeological park of Segesta is in the commune of Calatafimi-Segesta within the western province of Trapani on the island of Sicily, southern Italy.
Ancient Segesta was one of the principle cities of the Sicilian indigenous people, called Elymians.
The Elymians according to legend (and the Greek Historian and general Thucydides) were originally Trojans who fled the destruction by the Greeks of the ancient and famous city of Troy. Having found haven in Sicily, they merged with local peoples and become one.
From the 8th century BC most of Sicily was either colonised or influenced by the Ancient Greeks and Segesta was no different. The city was eventually Hellenised, and Greek culture was adopted including architecture and temple building.
Standing glorious in magnificent isolation on a low hill amid verdant country side and framed by mountains is the Greek Doric Temple of Segesta.
The Doric order was one of the three orders of designed by the Greeks. The other two were the Ionic order originating from the Ionian Greek city states from Asia Minor and the Corinthian order, named for the Greek city-state of Corinth. The Romans later adopted these orders.
One of the most magnificently sited classical monuments in the world, the temple is believed to have been constructed between 426 – 416 BC and is thought to have been built to impress the ambassadors from Athens whom the Segestans were anxious to win over to help protect them from their hostile Greek rival Selinous (modern day Selinunte).
Believed to be the work of a great Athenian architect, the Doric order peripteral temple authentically follows the existing models of classical architecture of Greek cities in Sicily and comprises of 36 limestone columns and is arranged by 6 columns on the facade and 14 on the sides.
The temple was abandoned before completion (possibly due to war and conflict) as the columns are unfluted, the lifting bosses (knobs) have been left on and there is no evidence of a cella and roof being built.
Nearby is the well preserved ancient Greek Theatre which stands on the highest part of the ancient city at about 400 metres on the cliffs of Mount Barbaro.
Dating from the second half of the 2nd century BC, the theatre originally accommodated 4000 people and has a stunning backdrop overlooking the beautiful panorama of the Segestan territory which is dominated by Mount Inici.
All content, images and text are copyright Steven Sklifas.