Temple of Segesta in Sicily: the charm of the ancient times

June 3, 2014

The Temple of Segesta is a greek temple of ancient Segesta, located inside the archaeological site of Segesta Calatafimi, in the province of Trapani. It was built during the last thirty years of the fifth century BC, on a hill outside the city walls. It has six columns on the short side and fourteen on the long one, for a total of thirty-six columns.

As a whole, the temple follows the classical architecture’s pattern of Greek cities in Sicily: this is especially clear looking at the capitals and the cornices. Nevertheless, some elements of the building have raised doubts among historiographers, leading them to question whether the temple actually belongs to the Hellenistic period or not.

The most controversial element is the absence of the cell inside the colonnade, which happens to be one of the best preserved of the ancient world. That is why some people believe the temple to have been erected as a sacred place for the celebration of indigenous rites, that had nothing to do with Greek culture. The most prevalent hypothesis, however, is another one: according to most scholars, the temple of Segesta remained unfinished once the colonnade was built, probably due to the Carthaginians conquering the city in 409 BC.

The temple of Segesta is one of the most interesting and best-preserved ones in Sicily. This impressive structure dominates the landscape from the hill on which it stands; you can reach the place through a long and lovely path in the countryside.

Nearby, on the opposite side of the Monte Barbaro, is placed the Theatre of Segesta. According to historians, the building dates back to the mid-fourth century BC and it has an Hellenistic structure too. The upper side is partially destroyed and very little of the scene still stands; scholars believe that it was decorated with columns and pillars. Today the theatre has been restored and it regularly hosts theatrical performances.

The archaeological site of Segesta is open in summer time (from late March to late October) every day from 9.00 am to 7.00 pm. During the winter season (from late October to late March) is open daily from 9.00 am to 5.00 pm. The ticket costs € 6 (reduced € 3); admission is free under 18 years old and over 65 years old.

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