A Travellerspoint blog

Hellenic Sicily

sunny 23 °C

Some folks love Sicily for the warm seas, the sandy beaches and the cheap wine, and if that’s your idea of heaven then you might want to switch off for awhile because we are going in search of the past. Many of history’s notorious tyrants, conquerors and empire builders had a hand in shaping this land and, despite nearly three thousand years of wars, floods, earthquakes and volcanic eruptions, Sicily is scattered with monumental reminders of their supremacy. Our historical expedition begins with this Greek temple in Selinunte
The Greeks weren’t here first by any means, but the locals must have been awestruck back in 628 BC, when the Hellenic invaders set up shop and built one of the richest and most powerful cities in the world. This temple complex in Selinunte on the west coast of Sicily predates the Parthenon in Athens by two hundred years…
Selinunte was a vast and complex city for two centuries before it was attacked and virtually destroyed by the Carthaginians in 409 BC. Most of the city’s fine stone buildings were reduced to rubble – but it is very impressive rubble…

Our next stop is a short step up the chronological ladder to the city of Agrigento also on Sicily’s west coast. The year is 488 BC and, under the tyrant Terone, the Greeks are still putting up enormous temples to deify their gods and to make sacrifices to protect their fishermen and seafarers. This is the Temple of Juno …
Agrigento was better defended than Selinunte and its army not only resisted the Carthaginian attacks but actually defeated the invaders. However, the city changed hands many times over the next thousand years until the fall of the Roman Empire in 480AD. This is the Temple of Concord built in 450 BC minus the terracotta roof that the Romans put on it when they were in charge…
The Byzantines from Constantinople (Istanbul) ruled here after the Romans until the Normans finally took the city by siege in 1086. The French then spent centuries defending it against the Arabian Muslims - the Saracens. Here’s another view of one of the magnificent temples…
We are now temple’d out, and our heads are spinning with almost inconceivable spans of time. so we are leaving the coast to head into the mountains in search of one of the best preserved Roman villas in the world. We hope we haven’t metaphorically lost you in the mists of time and that you will join us at the Villa Romana Della Casale – a two thousand year old archaeological youngster in this ancient land.

Posted by Hawkson 08:07 Archived in Italy

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Love your ancient wandering so, almost inspiring me to go to Sicily ?

by Abigail Gossage

Haven't lost me. Always educational and interesting.

by Sue Fitzwilson

Impressive rubble indeed....some of it looks remarkably familiar ;) The historical stuff is great, but really...more about the food, the water temperature and perhaps a little about the men (photos of locals?) I am sooo curious to see what the Sicilian mafiosi look like.

by catherine

Wonder how they got those massive blocks up onto the pillars. Remarkable engineering feat (or a lot of slave labour pushing them up a very long ramp).

by R and B

I had no idea there was so much ancient history there...impressive!

by S

Today Gabriola shares the blue skies of Sicilly. After that - not much. Fabulous photos of impressive ruins - some by war - some more gently by time. Always marvel at the impulse to smash everything in war. I guess one small step forward is the 20th C agreements NOT to destroy culturally important sites e.g. Kyoto, but that is still the exception.

by Tom

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