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Visit Selinunte

Selinunte is situated on the southern coast of western Sicily, south-east of Mazaro-de-Vallo.

More than 2500 years ago Selinus (as Selinunte was then known) was one of the most important cities in Ancient Greece. This role continued until 409 BC when Hannibal and the carthaginians arrived and pretty much destroyed the entire city.

Explore Selinunte

Sicily Visitor comment: Sicily is home to some incredible Greek remains and Selinunte is one of the best which combines temple ruins and pretty views to make for a very atmospheric visit.

The Greeks liked their temples - and there are eight of them clearly identifiable to visit at Selinunte. Not in great condition for the large part but the sheer number of temples here ensures the importance of the site. Selinunte is now one of the most important ancient historical sites in Sicily, perhaps Italy.

Selinunte Temple F

There are two main parts to the site, the Acropolis and the East Hill. As you enter the site the East Hill is the first part you will get to and is home to Temple E which has undergone some controvertial renovation and is now the only one with a large part still upright.

Temple E dates back to 460 to 450 BC and was dedicated to Hera, goddess of women. Many metopes (small statues) were used to decorate this temple and four have been preserved. These can be viewed in the Archaeological museum in Palermo.

Also on East Hill is Temple F and G. Temple G was originally the biggest at Selinunte. It was probably never a finished temple but if it had been it would have been one of the biggest in the world at the time. Temple G was dedicated to Apollo and Temple F which is the oldest of the three (550-540BC) was dedicated to either Athena or Dionysus.

At the other end of the site is the Acropolis. The Acropolis was a town surrounded by stone walls and towers. At one end it sits on the edge of the cliff overlooking the sea and it is near to here that the other 5 temples of Selinunte can be found - temples A,B,C,D and O.

Temples C and D are the oldest in the site having been constructed in the mid 6th century BC. Fourteen of the columns of temple C were re-erected in the 1920s as well as some architraves. Temple B is close to these two as were most of the ancient sacred buildings of Selinunte.

Selinunte Acropolis

In the south-eastern corner of the Acropolis temples A and O are very colde together and date back to the 5th century BC. These were converted into a fortress in the Middle Ages.

There is also a museum at Selinunte where you can see some of the many artefacts uncovered at the site and exhibits show what the temples would have looked like originally.

As the site is so large there are electric vehicules that you can ride on for a small charge which will take you around the site. Useful if you are in a hurry or have mobility issues or don't want to be hiking in the hot sun.

Selinunte beaches

The archeological site of Selinunte occupies a lovely clifftop position. There is no direct access to the beaches below but you can reach them from the neighbouring town of Marinella-di-Selinunte. The beaches are protected and are lovely to visit after a hot morning admiring the temples.

Selinunte beach

A little history

In its heyday Selinunte was the grandest of the towns of Sicily and with its walls and temples the inhabitants felt secure despite quarells with other towns especially nearby Segesta. However in 409 BC Segesta recruited the aid of the Carthaginians and an army of 10000 men landed on Sicily and attacked Selinunte.

Selinunte fought hard but was defeated and 16000 of its inhabitants were massacred and 5000 taken away as slaves. The town and its temples were sacked and destroyed. It never recovered and because of this the site remains largely unaltered and so of great interest to us today.

Where to visit nearby?

Mazara-del-Vallo has an interesting historical centre and a pretty seafront.

Sciacca to the east is a popular beach resort and spa town.

If you are now in the mood for more temple visits nearby Segesta is also home to an important temple. However the other main temple site to visit is Agrigento which has a magnificent collection of temples spread out throughout a valley - the Valley of the Temples. Agrigento is larger, busier and more commercialised and has more temples to see however we enjoyed the more peaceful atmosphere at Selinunte and the beautiful vista of the Acropolis against the sea.

You can find more local travel ideas in the West Sicily guide and the guide.

See also:

Photos of Selinunte

Click any picture to start the gallery

  • acropolis
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  • museum
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  • selinunte-beach
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  • temple-e-f
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Map of Selinunte and places to visit

Selinunte places to visit

Mazara del Vallo

Mazara del Vallo

Mazara is a pleasant town with beaches and an Arab casbah.

>> Mazara del Vallo guide
Sciacca

Sciacca

Sciacca is one of the oldest spa towns on Sicily.

>> Sciacca guide
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