"Segesta: A Must-See" Segesta by hquittner

Segesta Travel Guide: 14 reviews and 51 photos

A Mystical landscape

After leaving Selinunte , we hurried on to Segesta. It was an easy 50+km by super-highway A29 north. We entered near Castelvetrano (from S115).When we arrived it was late lunch-time and ubiquitous pizza was available in the snack bar near the parking.The climb from there to the Temple was a test for old legs but worth the arduous climb.Actually walking down was more dangerous and required a careful hands-on watch by my associates as it is a rough stepped path (could this be the original Way?).If you come here take the time to go by bus (1.2 euro) up to the Greek Theater (and other ruins). It runs regularly from outside the food and souvenir shop. Not only is there the Theater etc. but also fine views of the countryside and the Temple.There is no easy way to get to Segeta other than by car or tour-bus. Two nearby towns have some sleeping accomodations.Trapani-Erice are about an easy 40 km drive. Monreale-Palermo are 56-66 km by a winding back road, or to Palermo by A29N which is longer but just as fast. After leaving Segesta we went to Monreale (a 1 hr drive), by S113 and S186.

Mysterious Origins

For a Greek city Segesta is unusually sited. It is inland and was not a spin-off colony of a seacoast settlement.The people told Ancient historians that they(the Elmyrians) were descended from the remnants of people from Troy. They left fragments of a written language using a Greek alphabet but totally different words(and not yet deciphered).They left no history and produced no famous people or deeds.They were reputedly (falsely)wealthy from farming and bribed the Athenians to wreak havoc on and destroy their nearest southerly neighbor, Selinunte.This was enticing because most Ancient Greeks were devoutlly religious, logical and strong believers in republican government, genocide and slavery. What ultimately happened resulted in the sad decline of Athens, and other events leading to both the destruction of Selinunte and later Segesta. Segesta struggled to survive after that and slowly died out after the Roman Age.

An Unfinished Temple

The method for quarrying and creating a stone column for a Greek Temple is different from that of a marble column or an Egyptian obelisk. The last two are carved from single entire blocks out of the rock source, finished perhaps at the source and delivered for installation and finishing. The Greek column is cut in pie-shaped drums. Each drum may have holes or knobs for handling by ropes and poles.They are stacked one above the other and rotated to grind the apposing surfaces smooth. The weight and grindings are the only adhesive needed. (That is also why they fall so easily in an earthquake). When the columns are up and capped with an abacus and pediment they are vertically fluted (by drill and chisel) and painted or stuccoed to make them appear as single units (weathering achieves this somewhat).Thus the unfluted columns and projecting handling knobs indicate that the Temple of Segesta was never finished.

Pros and Cons
  • Pros:A Different Setting for a Temple
  • Cons:A hard climb and descent for a senior citizen
  • In a nutshell:You haven't seen them all without seeing this one.
  • Last visit to Segesta: Nov 2003
  • Intro Updated May 1, 2005
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hquittner

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