The Belice River Nature Reserve
It seems almost impossible that two jewels, one of historical importance and the other of natural one are so close to each other. Just a few hundred meters away from the archaeological treasures of Selinunte is the Belice River Mouth Nature Reserve home to natural landscapes. It is a dune habitat along the river mouth and many species of animals and plants have managed to adapt to the difficult climate and are now protected.
Temples overlooking the sea
First thing to say (not always so obvious in VT)... Selinunte is placed along the southern coast of Sicily
Overlooking the Mediterranean sea Selinunte is the site of some of the best preserved Greek ruins in all of Europe (see Agrigento, Segesta and Taormina for more).
Selinunte was once a thriving Greek city set in spectacular surroundings on the Sicilian coast. In its heyday, it had a population of about 25,000. These days all that remains are the ruins of the acropolis and a number of tumbledown temples.
The city was founded by Greek colonists from Megara Hyblea, on the east coast of Sicily, between 650 and 630 BC. It quickly became embroiled in territorial skirmishes with the neighbouring Elami and Entella, and built a harbour in order to protect its interests. After a treaty was reached in 580 BC, Selinunte turned her sea-faring capabilities to trade, and swiftly amassed riches which were the envy of other nations.
The Cartheginians were particularly concerned at Selinunte's new found wealth, as they didn't want to be ousted from their position of control over Sicily. Selinunte, for her part, attempted to remain neutral in subsequent conflicts between the Greek colonies. Ultimately, in 409 BC, Carthage used some minor skirmishes between Selinunte and the Elami as an excuse to attack the town. Selinunte was besieged for just nine days before the 100,000 strong army of Carthaginians breached the walls and embarked on a brutal frenzy of destruction.
Selinunte was inhabited by Carthaginians for the next 150 years, but it never regained its former prosperity. In 250 BC it was razed to the ground by Carthaginian forces who wanted to deprive Rome of her prize for capturing nearby Palermo.
In the early 8th century a small village grew up around the ruined city of Selinunte, but was destroyed by a serious earthquake about a hundred years later. The ruins have remained uninhabited from this time, and since no modern buildings have been constructed above the ruins the site is of supreme importance to archaeologists studying the Greek colonisation of Sicily.
The only standing temple was re-built in modern time with the original stones: but walking near both the fallen and the rebuilt temples is always magic, and swimming in clear waters looking at the temples is unic, too!