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Visiting the Temple of Segesta
An absolute must-see on any trip to Sicily, the ancient Greek temple and Roman amphitheatre at Segesta are breathtaking. Our guide has all the information you need to know about how to visit this wonderful archaeological site.
Segesta Temple Sicily Facts
- Segesta was one of the major cities of the Elymians, one of the three indigenous peoples of Sicily.
- By the time Segesta reached the peak of its wealth and power in the 5th century BC, it controlled one of the most important mints in the region and featured an enormous market that attracted traders from all over Europe.
- Segesta was culturally Greek and allied to Athens during the fifth century BC.
- The Doric temple was initially constructed at the foot of Mount Barbaro around 417 BC, at the time when Sicily was drawn into international conflicts between Athens, Sparta, and Carthage. The Tempio di Segesta represents the ancient city at the end of its zenith.
- The temple was never finished. This is known because the 36 Doric columns are of a rough finish because they were not “fluted”. There is also no roof, although scholars are undecided as to whether this was deliberate.
- The original city of Segesta was at the top of Mount Barbaro, where the amphitheatre is also located.
- Surprisingly, Segesta in not a UNESCO World Heritage Site. There are seven UNESCO sites in Sicily, they are Mount Etna; the archaeological area of Agrigento and the Valley of The Temples; Vila Romana del Casale; Isole Eolie (Aeolian Islands); the late Baroque towns of Val di Noto; Syracuse and the rocky Necropolis of Pantalica and Arab-Norman Palermo and the Cathedral Churches of Cefalù and Monreale.
Getting to Segesta
There is very limited public transport to Segesta and we advise that you check online prior to making plans.
There is a bus to Segesta from Via Balsamo near Palermo’s train station. This service runs Monday to Saturday from April to October. Buses only run on Monday from November to March.
Buses do not run on Sundays or public holidays (of which there are many, check them out here.)
If you are staying in western Sicily, Palermo or Trapani the optimum way to visit is by day tour, which may also take in the nearby historic mountain-top town of Erice and the fascinating salt pans at Trapani.
If you’re road tripping Sicily, Segesta is a must-see on your itinerary as one of the finest preserved temples in Europe, if not the world.
The Segesta exit is clearly marked off the A29D autostrada between Trapani (32km to the west) and Palermo (76km to the east). Parking is within two minutes of this exit.
When To Visit Segesta
The archaeological park at Segesta is open all year round. Visit in May and June for stunning wild flowers, and in summer for lush green meadows around the site. Winter may be chilly, but it will certainly be quieter and more peaceful.
Segesta opening times are;
- 27 March to 30 Sept – 9am to 7pm
- 1 to 31 October – 9am to 6pm
- 1 Nov to 28 Feb – 9am to 5pm
- 1 to 26 March – 9am to 6pm
Last admission is one hour before closing.
Sicily Travel Inspiration
Parking at Segesta
It is no longer possible to park at the foot of the temple. This is because the Parco Archeologico di Segesta who run the site, recognise that vehicle fumes so close to the ruins will have a long-term effect on their sustainability.
You will be directed to the official ‘park and ride’ for Segesta as you leave the autostrada. From here, you can catch a shuttle bus to the main entrance. The sign says it is 12km away, but they missed the decimal point…it is actually 1.2km away! The buses leave every 15 minutes or so.
To park and take the shuttle cost €5 for a car, €7 for a motorhome and €3 for a motorbike. This covers you for the whole day. You can also stay overnight in a campervan for €12, giving you a head start in the morning!
The best time to get there is about 8.45am to catch the first shuttle at 9am. Doing this will give you a few precious minutes of peace when you arrive at the temple.
Do not be tempted to park along the road or anywhere other than here …you will most likely be fined and moved on.
How To Visit Segesta
The bus will deposit you at the main entrance where you will queue for another ticket. The cost of entry is €6 and €3 for children and concessions (the only concession is EU citizens under 25).
You start from here with a short (five minutes) uphill walk to the temple. You can no longer walk into the temple as you were able to ten years ago. However, you can walk all the way round to look at the detailed architecture of the structure and marvel that the ancient Greeks were able to construct such a sublime and beautiful building.
You’ll want least an hour to admire the architecture, take photos and soak up the peaceful atmosphere (at least anytime before 11am). After this, the site becomes busy with day trippers and the paths around the temple can become busy.
From here, head back to the ticket office, over the fairly new road and uphill towards the Roman amphitheatre at the top of Mount Barbaro. It is entirely possible to take the path up ( a brisk 30 minute walk) through wildflowers and grasses and with spectacular views of the temple.
You can also catch a small shuttle bus for an additional €0.50, which takes around five minutes. Perhaps take the shuttle up and walk down as you don’t want to miss the the views, which are some of the best in Sicily.
The Segesta Experience
Segesta is a magical place and our favourite ancient Greek site in Sicily. The setting between lush rolling hills, with far distant views to the sea and mountains is perfection. The surrounding fields, with their exact rows of silver green olive trees and vines are archetypal Italian and just add to the atmosphere of the site.
The architecture of both temple and amphitheatre is breathtaking. The temple is particularly interesting due to its unfinished nature and complexity. It is amazing that it has survived as intact as it is given that until just a few years ago, visitors were able to walk inside and around the columns.
Other Sicilian archaeological sites and places of interest that you may want to visit;
- Valley of the Temples, Agrigento
- Temples of Selinunte, Marinella di Selinunte
- The Greek Theatre at Taormina
- Villa Romana del Casale, Piazza Armerina