The island of Sicily at the toe of Italy’s boot has an incredible history. Over its lifetime, it has been governed by many great civilizations, from the Romans and the Greeks to the Byzantine empire. Each culture has left its mark in some way or another, the Greeks and Romans through striking architecture. Take a tour of these beautiful preserved ruins in Western Sicily to step back in time and discover the multicultural heritage of the island.
Selinunte is one of the most impressive archaeological sites in the Mediterranean. After nearly being destroyed during an attack by the Carthaginians in 409BC, the town was abandoned and swallowed up by earth and sand, which, incredibly, preserved the ancient metropolis for many centuries. Visitors can explore the excavated site and see the numerous temples, buildings and trinkets uncovered in recent years by archaeologists.
Agrigento, formerly known as the Greek city of Akragas, is home to one of the most famous and important cultural centres in the Mediterranean, the UNESCO World Heritage-protected Valley of Temples. The archaeology park consists of eight ancient temples thought to have been built between 430 and 510BC. Despite being around 2,5000 years old, these fascinating monuments are extraordinarily well preserved and stand almost unaffected by time and weather to this day.
Perched on top of a grassy hill, the Temple of Segesta is a flash of history in the rolling countryside. Built around 420BC by the Elymians, the grand temple features 36 imposing Doric columns. The structure lies in the Segesta archaeological park, which also includes the ruins of the ancient Theatre of Segesta, a stunning semi-circular amphitheatre that would have been used by the Greeks and the Romans to put on action-packed shows for up to 4,000 guests. The historical park is also a prime photo point as its hilltop position affords striking panoramic views over the valley with the ocean on the horizon.
An archaeological site of extraordinary cultural value, Eraclea Minoa combines the charm of ancient mythology with the natural beauty of Western Sicily. The beautiful long beach stretching along the coastline is dominated by Greek ruins. Since excavation work began on the ancient city in the early 10th century, it has brought to light many important remains from the classical period, such as the city walls (which once ran for more than 6 km, giving an idea of the size that Eraclea Minoa assumed during its greatest years of development) and the Theatre, built around 400 BC. According to Greek myths, the city was built by Minos, King of Crete and son of Zeus and Europa, who came to Sicily to punish Daedalus for helping Ariadne and Theseus escape from the Minotaur’s labyrinth.
If you’re taking an archaeology tour of Sicily, stay at Verdura Resort, located on the south-west coast of theisland, a perfect position for exploring thesekey sites.