Selinunte is undoubtedly one of the most fascinating and famous archaeological sites in Sicily. Set in a secluded position on the west coast, between Mazara del Vallo and Sciacca, The Archaeological Park of Selinunte is an exciting example of Greek civilization in Sicily: the white temple ruins stand out against the sky and sea, making the entire archaeological Park of Selinunte and its enchanting area of about 250 acres the largest in Europe.
Established in 1993 to protect the vast expanse of present findings, the archaeological park of Selinunte, is divided into four distinct areas:
Built in the seventh century BC by Greek colonists from Megara Hyblea, Selinunte probably owes its name to a type of wild parsley present in abundance in the area (selinon).
Situated on a small plateau so as to facilitate its defense, the Greek colony Selinunte was the most western of Sicily: its history was short, marked by a rapid economic development, followed by a rapid period of decline.
Its period of greatest splendor dates from the sixth century BC, in which Selinunte was able to establish itself as an important commercial and military center in Sicily. The dynamism of the colony allowed for the expansion of its large territory, controlled by satellite towns (such as Eraclea Minoa) hence its continuity for some time. The coastal defense, however, was secured by a slender but fearsome war fleet.
Bitter enemy of the nearby Segesta, an ally of Carthage and Syracuse, it was at the hands of the Carthaginians, to whom it owes its disappearance. Selinunte called to the aid of Segesta, the bloody army of Hannibal Mago besieged it for nine days in which Selinunte failed to put up an adequate defense. The city was razed to the ground and the population deported to Africa and other Sicilian cities (especially in ancient Marsala).
A slight recovery occurred only during the Byzantine period but a strong earthquake struck down any attempt to rebirth Selinunte. The importance of the archaeological site was discovered in the sixteenth century, but only in 1823 had the first archaeological excavations been organized.