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To return to the temple of Segesta: 'Majestic' in the Sicilian countryside

Posted by Suzanne Turrisi on 28 Oct 2022

A beautiful place

“One of the most beautiful of the Greek temples in Sicily is that of Segesta”, said travel writer, Will S. Monroe decades ago. Segesta is beautiful. And the thought of returning sometime this December, in the colder months, is very nice.

A late 5th century B.C Doric temple, the temple of Segesta was never completed. Its beauty and position don't fail to move. It's about an hour and a half from Palermo on the road to Trapani.

There are a few notes below and some photos from my last visit in 2016. I have written about that visit before...I will write again about Segesta in the new year.

To return to a temple...golden, full of history and 'majestic'.  

I plan my return to the temple of Segesta (made of light golden stone) this winter when the crowds will be less, days slower and the Sicilian sun much more forgiving.

“Majestic and solitary” are some of the words travel writer Raleigh Trevelyan uses when talking of the temple and he goes on to give bits of intriguing history… “we know that a much revered statue of Demeter was carried away from here by Verres, the rapacious Roman praetor of Sicily’. The town of Segesta he says, seems to have been founded in the 12th century B.C and prospered under the Romans.

The temple stood outside the main fortified part of town. Legends abound and there are grisly tales of war and massacre.

This temple amazes even if a walk inside is no longer a given

Unfortunately, the days of walking up the wide front stairs and into the bare space of this ancient temple seem to be gone. To stand inside it, roofless (it never had one) with 14 columns on each side and 6 front and back does suggest a protectiveness and there is a sense of connection to the past.

I did in fact get to enter the temple and wander close to the huge columns...many years ago.

And when I returned in 2016 entry was not allowed. 

To walk past oleanders, olive trees and fico d'india

To approach it on foot past oleanders, fico d'india (Indian figs), olive trees and pines feels so very Sicilian and to be only allowed to wander around it didn't disappoint. Taking in its majestic position, sheer size, big history, and golden colour is all wonderful.

It stands gloriously alone and unadorned, bare... a perfect archaeological site.

Simply not to be missed

I spent a night close by, in 2016 in a small, friendly rural house (a b&b...Villa Palmeri) with an uninterrupted view to the temple, up lit and otherworldly. Not forgotten.

And the 3rd century B.C Greek theatre up the hill is a must. 

I look forward to returning.







The opening quote is from Will S. Monroe’s “Sicily the Garden of The Mediterranean”, Boston MDCCCCIX.

The others: Raleigh Trevelyan, “The Companion Guide to Sicily”, 1996 edition.

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