The first time I saw Selinunte was in the early nineties, and I had the opportunity to visit it twice more.
I had already been to Sicily and knew part of its artistic and scenic beauty. I had promised myself to return there to deepen my knowledge of those places that I knew only through documentaries and readings, but especially because my relatives live in the area. I went back to that part of Sicily together with Ornella and two of our friends for a 12-day tour that would allow us to discover much of the land of oranges. In our wanderings we inserted Without difficulty I chose to spend a few hours in Selinunte, the important commercial center of the sixth century BC.
The information I had on this ancient colony dates back to the times of my now rusty studies, but it was very easy to refresh them because at the entrance of the park you can read a lot of information even without buying any guide. However, I always buy audio guides, which are very useful for more precise information.
Where is Selinunte
The archaeological park of Selinunte is located in Castelvetrano in the province of Trapani and is the largest archaeological park in Europe.
Selinunte Archaeological Park
Selinunte was an ancient Greek city situated on the south-western coast of Sicily consisting of an Acropolis, the ancient city and some other teples situated on a hill not far away. The archaeological park also includes the Cave di Cusa, where the temples of Selinunte were built. As a result of some earthquakes many buildings are ruined and on the ground but temple E and temple C have been partly rebuilt.
Many of the findings can be found in the National Archaeological Museum of Palermo and the famous Efebo di Selinunte, is in the Civic Museum of Castelvetrano.
What were the origins of Selinunte and how this centre became so important that it aroused the interest of both Greeks and Carthaginians until the conflict with nearby Segesta which enjoyed the favours of the Carthaginians and Athens. After reading that its end came after the first Punic war when the Carthaginians left it to the Romans who slowly ruined it, I was even more intrigued by the idea of visiting the seven Doric temples which are still present as silent witnesses of that fabulous past.
If you want to know the remains of what was once the glorious Selinunte, you will be able to choose between different solutions of itineraries: each one with its own characteristics and time of visit, so that you will be able to adapt your possibilities an adequate visit. I can suggest as many as four that are different from each other but always extremely interesting:
- The Temples of the Eastern Hill
- The Temples of the Acropolis
- The Temples of the Eastern Hill and the Acropolis
- Eastern Hill, Acropolis, Malophoros and Manuzza Hill.
Selinunte: The temples of the Eastern Hill
The route to the Temples on the eastern hill is not very demanding since it takes about ¾ of an hour and is only four hundred metres long.
You have to consider it only as a very short taste of this archaeological area which is limited to that part of the territory just in front of the main entrance of Selinunte Park. You will be able to admire Temples E, F and G. Although short and not very demanding, this mini itinerary allows you to see Temple E which is the one that has been best preserved and which should have been the largest temple of the Hellenic period.
The temples of the acropolis of Selinunte
Taking about an hour and a half and covering two and a half kilometres, you can choose to see only the Temples of the Acropolis, which are located on the highest point of the Greek Selinunte overlooking the sea and offering a dreamlike panorama. The route will allow you to get to know the remains of the Temples of Dioscuri Castore and Polluce (Temple A and Temple O) and the remains of Temples C (dedicated to Apollo) and D (dedicated to the goddess Athena).
A certainly more interesting alternative is the one related to the Temples of the eastern hill and the Acropolis on a route that develops two and a half or three kilometres where you will essentially see the three Temples (E, F and G) located within the hilly area and then directly reach the Acropolis where you can stop to visit Temples A, O, C and D.
The Manuzza plateau
If you continue towards the northern part and before reaching the Manuzza plateau, you will be able to admire the remains of the urban fabric of Selinunte organised by the Carthaginians and, then close to the village of Manuzza, the remains of the fortifications erected to defend Selinunte.
To make a complete visit to all the areas of the archaeological park of Selinunte the time needed is about 4 hours and it extends for 5 kilometres and, for this, it is better to equip yourself with comfortable shoes, a hat against the sun and water that you will need to quench your thirst. It starts right at the entrance of the eastern hill and then the visit of the three Temples E, F and G. Once you have finished this first step, you have to go up towards the Acropolis to visit Temples A, O, C and D as well as the excavations related to Temple R.
Towards the Gaggera and Manuzza hills
The itinerary continues towards the Sanctuary of Malophoros which is located at the top of the Gàggera hill where this archaic sacred area is located. At the end of the visit we will proceed towards the Manuzza hill to see what remains of the ancient settlement of Selinunte that can be deduced from its still visible urban fabric.
Cusa and Selinunte quarries
During the day we were suggested to visit the site of Cave di Cusa, to better understand how these huge temples were built. We found ourselves in another incredible place: a huge stone quarry where the columns were produced. It seems that time has stopped and the workers are on break and have to go back to work at any moment. READ THE POST ABOUT CUSA QUARRIESCAVE DI CUSA
The Park can be visited every day, including holidays, from 9 am until 6 pm. To get to the Park you have two options to choose from. The first access point is in the delightful village of Marinella di Selinunte, while the second entrance is in the small village of Triscina. The entrance costs 6 euros which becomes 3 for the reduced ticket. The entrance is free for journalists, students of the faculties of architecture and those related to archaeology.
How long is the visit to Selinunte
The visit, as indicated, can start from about sixty minutes which become at least four hours if you want to visit the entire archaeological area. I would like to point out that the area is quite large and, unless you are well trained, it is perhaps preferable to rent small electric cars or buy a ticket for a tour by train. It is impossible to tour the Park by bicycle as it is forbidden. At the Info point it is possible to ask to take part in a tour with an authorised guide.