While you're on holiday in Sicily, we would like to suggest a stop-off at Segesta! You'll see
Segesta's temple looks like an almost complete, perfect Greek temple, with all its columns in place and both triangular pediments complete. The only part missing is the roof. A close look reveals numerous signs that this temple was actually never finished: what you see today is everything that existed when the temple was built.
The well-preserved semi-circular theatre looks out over a spectacular landscape and, at sunset, the sky provides a magnificent changing backdrop which no modern theatre could hope to replicate.
It is surprising to be able to see all this outside Greece, especially since this part of Sicily was never heavily populated by the Greek settlers.
The indigenous Elymi tribe who came from this part of Sicily were more under the influence of the Carthaginians. As we have seen on the overview page, the Carthaginians (also called "Phoenicians" or "Punic people") were major competitors of the Greeks in the ancient Mediterranean.
So why do holiday makers in Sicily find such impressive ancient Greek remains in Segesta? No one knows for sure, but it is known that Greece's cultural influences spread far beyond its borders. The Greeks were active traders, and technically more advanced than almost everyone they encountered. There are clues that the Greeks and Elymians lived together peacefully in ancient Segesta.
We also know that the inhabitants of Segesta managed to forge tactical alliances with all three major ancient powers - the Greeks, Romans and Carthaginians – and even played Greek cities off against each other; apparently the famous Sicilian cunning was already fully developed in ancient times!
Segesta is home to some of the most interesting ancient monuments in Sicily, and so it has a dedicated motorway to improve access. The ancient site lies on the A29Dir motorway, just outside Trapani.
From this motorway junction, it is just over 1 km to the car park for the Segesta site (markers 3 and 4 in the map above).
Segesta is a good 70 km from Palermo, but only 30 km from Trapani. If you have based yourself to the east for your holidays in Sicily, the winding road to Segesta will inconveniently take you across the entire island.