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  • Writer's pictureThe Sicilian Wanderer

The Elymian Sicily


elimi

The Elymian Sicily represents a fundamental part of the island's history, having been inhabited by the ancient Elymian people between the 12th and 9th centuries BC. This historical region primarily extends in the western part of Sicily, within the provinces of Trapani and Palermo.

The origins of the Elymians remain uncertain, but it is known that they created a unique and distinctive culture, different from those of other populations on the island, such as the Sicani and the Siculi. It is believed that the Elymians had contacts with other Mediterranean civilizations, including the Phoenicians, Greeks, and Etruscans, which influenced their cultural and technological development.

The cities founded by the Elymians, such as Segesta, Erice, and Entella, became significant political, economic, and cultural centers. In addition to temples and sacred buildings, these cities also housed residential structures, artisan workshops, and necropolises, offering an overview of the daily life of the Elymians.


segesta

Segesta:

Segesta is one of the most significant cities founded by the Elymians, located in the territory of the current municipality of Calatafimi-Segesta, in the province of Trapani. The city was a major political and cultural center during the Iron Age and was a protagonist in numerous conflicts with the Greek cities of Sicily.


Among the most significant remains of Segesta, the Doric Temple stands out, a magnificent example of 5th-century BC Greek architecture, characterized by a peristyle of 36 columns. Despite being unfinished, the temple is very well-preserved and offers a panoramic view of the surrounding landscape. Another site of interest is the Greek Theatre, situated on the hill of Monte Bàrbaro. The theatre, dating back to the 3rd century BC, could accommodate up to 4,000 spectators and offers a breathtaking view of the coast.



erice elymian

Erice:

Erice is a captivating town perched on a mountain close to the Trapani coast. The city was founded by the Elymians and later influenced by the Phoenicians, Greeks, and Romans. Erice was an important religious center and hosted the famous Temple of Aphrodite (or Venus), a deity greatly revered by the Elymians.


Today, in place of the temple stands the Castle of Venus, a Norman fortress built between the 12th and 13th centuries. The castle offers a panoramic view of the city of Trapani and the Aegadian Islands. Other points of interest in Erice include the cyclopean walls, medieval churches, and characteristic stone-paved alleys.


Entella:

The Elymian society was organized into independent city-states, often competing with each other, but united by cultural and religious ties. The Elymian religion was polytheistic and venerated deities related to nature, fertility, and war. The Elymians practiced complex funeral rites, which involved placing the deceased in rock-cut chamber tombs, often accompanied by rich grave goods.

From an artistic standpoint, the Elymians are known for their sculptures, made both in stone and terracotta, depicting deities, animals, and scenes of daily life. Elymian pottery, influenced by Phoenician, Greek, and Etruscan traditions, features a variety of shapes and decorations, including geometric, floral, and figurative motifs.

The Elymians had considerable knowledge of agricultural and breeding techniques, and their economy was mainly based on these activities, as well as on trade and craftsmanship. Their products were valued and exchanged with other Mediterranean populations.

The archaeological evidence from Entella includes the remains of city walls, dwellings, and necropolises, offering a glimpse into the daily life of the Elymians. In addition, numerous artifacts have been found, including ceramics, coins, and sculptures, testifying to the city's importance in the Elymian landscape.

Elymian Sicily still preserves numerous archaeological sites and monuments that testify to the presence of this fascinating culture. Among the sites of greatest interest are:


Segesta Archaeological Park:

The Segesta Archaeological Park is one of the most important sites linked to the Elymian civilization. Located in the municipality of Calatafimi-Segesta, in the province of Trapani, the park hosts two monuments of great interest: the Doric Temple and the Greek Theatre. The Doric Temple, dating back to the 5th century BC, is a majestic example of Greek architecture characterized by a peristyle of 36 columns. Although unfinished, the temple is very well preserved and offers a panoramic view of the surrounding valley. The Greek Theatre, located on the hill of Monte Bàrbaro, was built in the 3rd century BC and could accommodate up to 4,000 spectators. From here, one can enjoy a breathtaking view of the coast and the sea.


The Segesta Archaeological Park is open every day from 9:00 am to 5:00 pm. For more information about the park, entrance fees, and possible reductions, visit the official website (https://www.parcodisegesta.com). The full entrance ticket generally costs around 6 euros, with reductions for students, groups, and visitors over 65 years of age.


Castle of Venus in Erice:

The Castle of Venus is a Norman fortress located in the town of Erice, in the province of Trapani. Built between the 12th and 13th centuries on the ruins of the Temple of Aphrodite (or Venus), a deity greatly revered by the Elymians, the castle offers a panoramic view of the city of Trapani, the Aegadian Islands, and the coast. The castle is a place of great historical and cultural interest, allowing a better understanding of the evolution of architecture and religious traditions over the centuries.


The Castle of Venus in Erice is open to the public from 9:00 am to 7:00 pm in summer, and from 9:00 am to 5:00 pm in winter. For more details on opening hours and ticket prices, consult the website of the Municipality of Erice (https://www.comune.erice.tp.it/). The cost of the full entrance ticket is about 4 euros, with reductions for students, groups, and visitors over 65 years of age.


Entella Excavations:

The excavations of Entella, located in the province of Palermo, are an important archaeological site linked to the Elymian civilization. The city of Entella was a significant political and economic center during the Iron Age. Among the archaeological remains of Entella, one can find city walls, dwellings, and necropolises that offer a glimpse into the daily life of the Elymians. Numerous artifacts have been found, including ceramics, coins, and sculptures.


The Entella Excavations are open to the public from Tuesday to Saturday, from 9:00 am to 1:00 pm and from 2:00 pm to 5:00 pm. For further information on the site and entrance fees, you can visit the website of the Superintendence of Palermo.

The price of the entrance ticket varies depending on the event or temporary exhibition, but it is usually around 3 euros, with reductions for students, groups, and visitors over 65 years of age.


Sicilian Museums:

Many Elymian artifacts are preserved in Sicilian museums. The "Antonino Salinas" Regional Archaeological Museum in Palermo and the "Pepoli" Regional Archaeological Museum in Trapani are among the most important. These museums offer the opportunity to closely admire the art objects and tools used by the Elymians, enriching the knowledge of their culture and history. Among the exhibits are ceramics, jewelry, weapons, and coins, as well as sculptures and reliefs that testify to the Elymians' artistic skill.


"Antonino Salinas" Regional Archaeological Museum in Palermo:

The "Antonino Salinas" Regional Archaeological Museum in Palermo is open from Tuesday to Saturday, from 9:00 am to 7:00 pm, and Sunday from 9:00 am to 1:30 pm.

For updated information on schedules and ticket prices, visit the museum's official website https://www.coopculture.it/en/poi/antonino-salinas-regional-archaeological-museum/. The cost of the full entrance ticket is about 8 euros, with reductions for students, groups, and visitors over 65 years of age.


"Pepoli" Regional Archaeological Museum in Trapani:

The "Pepoli" Regional Archaeological Museum in Trapani is open from Tuesday to Saturday, from 9:00 am to 1:30 pm and from 2:30 pm to 6:30 pm, while on Sunday it is open only in the morning, from 9:00 am to 1:30 pm. For more information on schedules and rates, visit the museum's website (https://www2.regione.sicilia.it/beniculturali/museopepoli/MuseoPepoli.html). The full entrance ticket costs about 4 euros, with reductions for students, groups, and visitors over 65 years of age.


In ending, Elymian Sicily offers a wide range of sites of historical and cultural interest, with accessible opening hours and entrance fees. Always remember to check the official websites for updated information on times, prices, and possible reductions, as they may vary depending on the season or special events. Visit these fascinating places and enrich your knowledge of the Elymian civilization, immersing yourself in the history and culture of ancient Sicily.


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