Selinunte was one of the most important of the ancient Greek colonies in Sicily. It was founded, according to the historian Thucydides, by a colony from the Sicilian city of Megara Hyblaea, in the 7th century BCE. At its peak before 409 BC the city may have contained up to 30,000 people, excluding slaves.

In 409 BCE Carthaginian Hannibal crushed and plundered Selinunte, saving only women and children. Thus this is the end of one of the most glorious Greek colonies in the west Sicily. Selinunte was rebuilt by the Carthaginians, but only in the area of the acropolis. They settled elements of Punic civilization, spread new cults, and the old city center of Manuzza becomes necropolis.

During the First Punic War, Selinunte tried to break free from the yoke of Carthage with the help of the Romans. But the Carthaginians preferred to move their resources to Lilibeo and left Selinunte at the mercy of the Romans. Selinunte was never rebuilt and inhabited again.

Archaeological remains

The archaeological site contains five temples centered on an acropolis. Of the five temples, only the Temple of Hera, also known as 'Temple E', has been re-erected.

The acropolis is a chalk massif with a cliff face falling into the sea in the south, while the north end narrows to 140 metres wide. The settlement in the form of a massive trapezoid, extended to the north with a large retaining wall in terraces (about eleven metres high) and was surrounded by a wall (repeatedly restored and modified) with an exterior of squared stone blocks and an interior of rough stone (emplecton). It had five towers and four gates. To the north, the acropolis was fortified by a counter wall and towers from the beginning of the fourth century BC. At the entrance to the acropolis is the so-called Tower of Pollux, constructed in the sixteenth century to deter the Barbary pirates, atop the remains of an ancient tower or lighthouse.

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