Tag Archives: Megara

Selinunte – Castelvetrano, Sicily

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 On our recent trip to Sicily, we knew that a return visit to Selinunte had to be on the agenda.  

Selinunte (Ancient Greek: Σελινοῦς; Latin: Selinus) was an ancient Greek city on the southern coast of Sicily in Italy. It was situated between the valleys of the Belice and Modione rivers. It now lies in the comune Castelvetrano, between the frazioni of Triscina di Selinunte in the west and Marinella di Selinunte in the east.

The archaeological site contains five temples centered on an acropolis.

Of the five temples, only the Temple of Hera has been re-erected.

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Selinunte was one of the most important of the Greek colonies in Sicily, situated on the southwest coast of that island, at the mouth of the small river of the same name, and 6.5 km west of that of the Hypsas (the modern Belice River).   It was founded, according to historian Thucydides, by a colony from the Sicilian city of Megara, or Megara Hyblaea, under the conduct of a leader named Pammilus, about 100 years after the settlement of that city, with the addition of a fresh body of colonists from the parent city of Megara in Greece.

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 The date of its foundation cannot be precisely fixed, as Thucydides indicates it only by reference to that of the Sicilian Megara, which is itself not accurately known, but it may be placed about 628 BCE. Diodorus places it 22 years earlier, or 650 BCE, and Hieronymus still further back, 654 BCE.   The date from Thucydides, which is probably the most likely, is incompatible with this earlier epoch.

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The name is supposed to have been derived from quantities of wild parsley  that grew on the spot.   For the same reason, they adopted the parsley leaf as the symbol on their coins.

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Selinunte was the most westerly of the Greek colonies in Sicily, and for this reason was early brought into contact and collision with the Carthaginians and the native Sicilians in the west and northwest of the island.   The former people, however, do not at first seem to have offered any obstacle to their progress;  but as early as 580 BCE we find the Selinuntines engaged in hostilities with the people of Segesta (a non-Hellenic city), whose territory bordered on their own.

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The river Mazarus, which at that time appears to have formed the boundary between the two states, was only about 25 km west of Selinunte; and it is certain that at a somewhat later period the territory of Selinunte extended to its banks, and that that city had a fort and emporium at its mouth.    On the other side its territory certainly extended as far as the Halycus (modern Platani), at the mouth of which it founded the colony of Minoa, or Heracleia, as it was afterward termed.   It is evident, therefore, that Selinunte had early attained to great power and prosperity; but there is very little information as to its history.

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Like most of the Sicilian cities, it had passed from an oligarchy to a despotism, and about 510 BCE was subject to a despot named Peithagoras, from whom the citizens were freed by the assistance of the Spartan Euryleon, one of the companions of Dorieus: and thereupon Euryleon himself, for a short time, seized on the vacant sovereignty, but was speedily overthrown and put to death by the Selinuntines.   The causes leading the Selinuntines to abandon the cause of the other Greeks, and take part with the Carthaginians during the great expedition of Hamilcar (480 BCE) are unknown; they had even promised to send a contingent to the Carthaginian army, which, however did not arrive till after its defeat.

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The Selinuntines are next mentioned in 466 BCE, as co-operating with the other free cities of Sicily in assisting the Syracusans to expel Thrasybulus;  and there is every reason to suppose that they fully shared in the prosperity of the half century that followed, a period of tranquility and opulence for most of the Greek cities in Sicily.   Thucydides speaks of Selinunte just before the Athenian expedition as a powerful and wealthy city, possessing great resources for war both by land and sea, and having large stores of wealth accumulated in its temples.

We were well prepared for our hiking the ruins, as we were staying at the New Palace Hotel in Marsala

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and were treated to the most marvelous breakfast each morning…

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We so enjoyed this adventure in Sicily…….hope you did too!

The Ruins of Selinunte – Sicily

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Flag of the Sicilian Region Italiano: Bandiera...

Flag of the Sicilian Region Italiano: Bandiera della Regione Siciliana Sicilianu: Bannera dâ Riggiuni Siciliana Deutsch: Flagge der Sizilianischen Region (oder der Autonomen Region Sizilien) Français : Drapeau de la Région Sicilienne Español: Bandera de la Región Siciliana Português: Bandeira da Região Siciliana (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

 Sicily is the largest island in the Mediterranean Sea; along with surrounding minor islands, it constitutes an autonomous region of Italy, the ”Regione Autonoma Siciliana”

Sicily is located in the central Mediterranean. It extends from the tip of the Apennine peninsula from which it is separated only by the narrow Strait of Messina, towards the North African coast. Its most prominent landmark is Mount Etna, which is the tallest active volcano in Europe and one of the most active in the world. 

The earliest archeological evidence of human dwelling on the island dates from 8000 BC. At around 750 BC, Sicily became a Greek colony and fell under the rule of the Normans, the Crown of Aragon, Crown of Spain, the Holy Roman Empire, and finally the Bourbons, as the Kingdom of the Two Sicilies. It was united with the rest of Italy in 1860, but a subsequent economic collapse led to  separatism and the emergence of the Mafia, whose criminal activities pose problems to this day. After the birth of the Italian Republic in 1946, Sicily was given special status as an autonomous region.

Selinunte was one of the most important of the ancient Greek colonies in Sicily, situated on the southwest coast of the island, at the mouth of the small river of the same name.   It was founded, according to historian Thucydides, by a colony from the Sicilian city of Megara, under the conduct of a leader named Pammilus, about 100 years after the settlement of that city, with the addition of a fresh body of colonists from the parent city of Megara in Greece.   

The date of its foundation cannot be precisely fixed, as Thucydides indicates it only by reference to that of the Sicilian Megara, which is itself not accurately known, but it may be placed about 628 BCE.   The name is supposed to have been derived from quantities of wild parsley that grew on the spot. For the same reason, they adopted the parsley leaf as the symbol on their coins.


We found the site to be most incredible, in most by the fact that we were the ONLY people visiting it! This is truly one of the most undiscovered beautiful sites on our planet. The majestic ruins were so wonderful to enjoy without the usual rabble of tour guides boasting their ignorance by providing incorrect information.

It was a most impressive, magical, mystical, inspiring and historically overwhelming visit. If you are ever in Italy, you must try to make a visit to this most wonderful place.