Selinunte – Agrigento

The Selinunte site is located near the southwestern coast of Sicily in the province of Trapani. While Akragas (Agrigento) boasts more standing Greek temples in its “Valley of the Temples,” Selinunte is set in a much more tranquil setting.

The city of Selinunte proper, known as the “acropolis,” is situated on high ground overlooking the Mediterranean about twenty meters below. The acropolis is located roughly in the center of the large archeological park.

Founded by Doric Greek colonists from Sicily’s Megara Hyblea between 650 and 630 BC, Selinus is mentioned by Diodorus Siculus and Thucydides, and while neither historian is noted for being especially accurate, most of their observations about Selinus appear to be correct.

Often embroiled in border battles with the Elymians living in Segesta and Entella, the inhabitants of Selinus constructed an efficient port. However, a treaty of sorts was eventually reached over their common border and the skirmishing ceased around 580 BC, ushering in a period of peace lasting a century.

It was commerce and the resulting wealth that permitted the residents to develop Selinus and erect the splendid temples. Selinunte’s trade, riches and elegant buildings soon made it famous as one of the most important cities of Greek Italy, second in importance only to Syracuse. However, Selinunte’s success soon earned it the envy of the Carthaginians who controlled pockets of western Sicily. This eventually led to the city’s demise.

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