Archaeological Park of Selinunte
Selinunte, the Greek city of the five templesSelinunte was founded towards the middle of the 7th century B.C. by Greek colonists from Megara Hyblaea. The site was located on the shores of the Mediterranean Sea between the two river valleys of Belice and Modione.
The city had a short life lasting approximately 200 years and in this period the city's population reached a peak of 25,000 inhabitants. The name means 'wild celery' (σ?λινον in Greek) which the settlers found there in abundance. The image of a celery plant was displayed on coins minted in a later period at Selinunte.
The city formed the western outpost of Greek civilization in Sicily. It allied itself with Carthage, above all to protect itself against the nearby city of Segesta. However, after the disastrous Athenian expedition to Sicily in 415-413 B.C. the balance of power changed: Segesta, formerly allied to Athens, succeeded in making an alliance with the Carthaginians. The inhabitants of Selinunte were not aware of the change of allegiance and invaded territory controlled by Segesta which they thought was unprotected. The reaction of Carthage was violent: the city was besieged for nine days by an army of 100,000 Carthaginian soldiers and then completely destroyed. Of a total population of 25,000 inhabitants, 16,000 were killed and 5,000 were taken prisoner. Selinunte was subsequently rebuilt by Greek and Punic colonists. In 250 B.C., after winning the first Punic War, the city was destroyed for a second time and was never rebuilt.
The archeological park at Selinunte is considered to be the largest and most imposing in Europe. It covers an area of 1,740 square kilometres and includes numerous temples, sanctuaries and altars. The sculptures found during excavation at Selinunte can be found primarily in the National Archeological Museum in Palermo. An exception is the most famous piece excavated to date, The Ephebe of Selinunte, which is located at the Museo Comunale in Castelvetrano. The remains of Selinunte can be divided into three principal areas: the Acropolis which was dedicated to the deities; the east hill which was inhabited during the Greek-Punic period and contains Temples E (Hera), F and G; and the Sancturary of Demeter Malophoros whose cult, together with that of her daughter Persephone, was widespread in Sicily.