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Sicily Greek Temples - Agrigento, Selinunte, Segesta

We went to Sicily in April 2014 to see the Greek temples at Agrigento (Valley of the Temples), Selinunte and Segesta. We spent a week in Scicli (near Ragusa in the southeast corner) and spent the day at Agrigento on our way going to Sciacca where we spent three nights. From there we did easy day trips to Selinunte and Segesta. Sicily is an amazing place to see, but seeing these Greek temples was a dream come true for me.

Agrigento (The Valley of the Temples)

The Valley of the Temples (Valle dei Templi) sits below the modern city of Agrigento. The ancient city of Agrigento was a Greek colony in the 6th century BC and became one of the leading cities in the Ancient Greek world. Doric temples were built in the 6th and 5th centuries BC along a hilltop overlooking the sea. City walls surrounded the temples and the city. Many of the temples remain and can be visited.

Location: Italy - Sicily - Agrigento - Agrigento
From the E931 coast road, the SP4 to Agrigento goes through the Valley of the Temples, but there is no place to park along this road. There are two large parking lots, but they are not well marked. At the large roundabout before you drive up to the main entrance on the SP4, turn left and you will see the parking lot on your left, near the Clinica Sant'Anna. From here you can take a taxi to the far end of the valley, at Temple of Juno (Tempio di Giunone), and then walk downhill back through the valley ending up near the parking lot (cost 3 Euro per person).

The other parking lot is at the eastern end of the valley at the Temple of Juno. From the same roundabout, turn right and follow to the temple.

It is a two km walk along the ridgetop to see three main temples and other ruins. There is an Archaeological museum. There is much to see in this area and it is well worth more than a day trip.

The visitor center and road are between the Temple of Hercules and the Temple of Olympian Zeus. There is a snack bar here (and toilets).

Website: Valley of the Temples

The Valley of the Temples is not a valley, but a hilltop. Starting at the eastern gate (Gate II or Gela Gate) you follow a gentle downhill path for two kilometers and see the main temples.

The temples were built in the 5th to 6th centuries BC. Originally they were coated in marble and painted bright colors, but only the limestone remains. Three temples are well preserved, but others are in ruins as their stone was used to build Porto Empedocle. As you walk along the path you see remains of the 6th century BC Greek city wall. It was about 12 km long, surrounding the temples and the town.

- Temple of Juno (Tempio di Giunone), built around 460 BC.

- Temple of Concord (Tempio della Concordia). Doric style (440-430 BC) on a base of four steps, six columns front and back, 13 columns along the sides. This is one of the best Greek temples in the world.

- Palaeochristian necropolis (Necropoli Paleocristiana), extends from the Temple of Juno to the Temple of Hercules. Large burial area used between the 3rd and 6th centuries AD.

- Temple of Hercules (Tempio di Ercole). The oldest temple in Agrigento, dating back to the end of the 6th century BC. Doris style with a base of three steps, six columns front and back, 15 along the sides.

- Temple of Olympian Zeus (Tempio di Giove Olimpico Zeus). It was the largest Doric temple in the western Greek world, constructed around 480 BC, but not much remains. Large base with five steps, external wall with Doric half columns - seven on the front and back, 14 along the sides. Two stone giants that once stood upright lay on the ground.

- Temple of Castor and Pollux. A reconstruction of four columns.

- Temple of Vulcano. Two columns remain.

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Temple of Juno, 5th century BC.

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Selinunte

Selinunte, founded in 7th century BC, was one of the most important Greek colonies in Sicily. The town (Acropolis) and the temples were built in the 6th century BC. In 409 BC Selinunte was attached by the Carthaginians. After that defence walls were built around the town. In 250 BC the population left. In Byzantine times Selinunte was inhabited again, but was then abandoned.

Location: Italy - Sicily - Trapani - Marinella di Selinunte
This is a large archaeological site with remains of three temples on East Hill (one has been reconstructed - Temple of Hera) and the remains of a town (Acropolis), fortifications and temples on South Hill. Remains of more housing are in the north, and the Sanctuary of Malophoros is in the west. The town and temple area are about 1km apart, separated by a valley.

The main entrance is at East Hill, but there is another entrance near the Acropolis. Purchase tickets at the main entrance. There are tourist shops and a cafe. There are more cafes and restaurants in the nearby area.

To get from East Hill to the Acropolis you can walk, take a paid shuttle or drive to the Acropolis entrance and park there. This is an exposed area beside the sea, so will be hot in summer.

Website: Wikipedia - Selinunte

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Temple of Hera, back.

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Segesta

Segesta was an ancient city built in the 5th century BC. You can visit the remains of the city, the Greek Theater and a well preserved Doric temple. The temple has six by fourteen columns and was never finished. The setting of the temple, on a hill across from the remains of the city and theater, is spectacular.

Location: Italy - Sicily - Trapani - Calatafimi-Segesta
Purchase your entry tickets near the parking lot and then walk up to the temple (uphill on a good path - 10 minutes). Return to the entrance and walk up the road to the theater (20 minutes) or take the shuttle that runs twice an hour (purchase tickets in the bookshop/cafe).

Website: Wikipedia - Segesta

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Greek Doric temple, 5th century BC.

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