Temple of Hatshepsut, Egypt.

Powerful Queen and Pharaoh

The mortuary Temple of Queen Hatshepsut is on the west bank of the River Nile, just across from Luxor, ancient Thebes, in Egypt.

Queen Hatshepsut was one of only a few women ever to reign over Egypt as Pharaoh. She ruled for 20 years during the 18th dynasty – 14th century BCE.

Rising out of the desert plain and set against towering cliffs in the Theban Hills, the temple, with its many monumental ramps, fine terraces, and elegant columns, is one of the most impressive from ancient Egypt.

What’s also impressive are its colourful hieroglyphic paintings and reliefs, that tells the story of Hatshepsut’s divine birth and of her journey to the Land of Punt (which is believed to be modern-day Somalia) to bring back treasures such as ebony, ivory, gold, perfumes and myrrh trees.

Relief. Temple of Queen Hatshepsut. Egypt.
Thebes. Egypt. Temple of Queen Hatshepsut colourful relief showing a festival scene with soldiers running forward carrying branches of trees along with their axes.

The Temple of Queen Hatshepsut is a UNESCO World Heritage listed site as part of the Ancient Thebes, with its Necropolis listing.

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All images, text and content are copyright Steven Sklifas.

Segesta, Sicily Italy.

Glorious Architectural Legacy of Ancient Greece

The archaeological park of Segesta is in the commune of Calatafimi-Segesta within the western province of Trapani on the island of Sicily, southern Italy. Ancient Segesta was one of the principal cities of the Sicilian indigenous people, called Elymians. 

The Elymians according to legend (and the Greek Historian and general Thucydides) were originally Trojans who fled the destruction by the Greeks of the ancient and famous city of Troy. Having found haven in Sicily, they merged with local peoples and become one. 

From the 8th century BCE, the Ancient Greeks colonised or influenced most of Sicily and Segesta was no different. The city adopted Greek culture, including architecture and temple building. 

Standing glorious in magnificent isolation on a low hill amid verdant country side and framed by mountains is the Greek Doric Temple of Segesta. 

One of the three orders designed by the Greeks was the Doric order. The other two were the Ionic order originating from the Ionian Greek city states from Asia Minor and the Corinthian order, named for the Greek city-state of Corinth. The Romans later adopted these orders.

One of the most magnificently sited classical monuments in the world, the temple was constructed between 42 and 16 BCE.

It was built to impress the ambassadors from Athens whom the Segestans were eager to win over to help protect them from their hostile Greek rival Selinous (modern day Selinunte). 

Ancient Greek Theatre. Segesta Sicily Italy.
Segesta. Sicily. Italy. View from the rear of the Greek Theatre, which stands on the highest part of the ancient city at about 400 metres on the cliffs of Mount Barbaro.

Believed to be the work of a great Athenian architect, the Doric order peripteral temple authentically follows the existing models of classical architecture of Greek cities in Sicily and comprises 36 limestone columns, arranged by 6 columns on the facade and 14 on the sides. 

The temple was abandoned before completion, possibly due to war and conflict. Incompletion is assumed because the columns are unfluted, the lifting bosses (knobs) have been left inserted in the structure and there is no evidence of a cella and roof being built. 

Nearby is the well preserved ancient Greek Theatre, which stands on the highest part of the ancient city at about 400 metres on the cliffs of Mount Barbaro. Dating from the second half of the 2nd century BCE, the theatre originally accommodated 4000 people and has a stunning backdrop overlooking the beautiful panorama of the Segesta territory which is dominated by Mount Inici. 

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All content, images and text are copyright Steven Sklifas.

Aegina, Greece.

Ancient Island Powerhouse

A stone’s throw south of Athens lays Aegina, an unspoiled and historic Greek island endowed with splendid archaeological remains, beautiful beaches and charming harbour towns. 

Located between the Attica and the Peloponnese, the island of Aegina (Aigina) is part of the archipelago known as the Saronic Gulf Islands which are regarded by Athenians as their own a little secret paradise to escape to from the hustle and bustle of the capital. (Salamis, Poros, Hydra and Spetses are the other Saronic Gulf Islands)

In the 7th and 6th centuries BC, Aegina was a mighty maritime state that rivalled Athens in power and prestige. 

Aegina minted the first ancient Greek coins (marked with a tortoise) and traded and established colonies throughout the Mediterranean. However, the imperial ambitions of Athens eventually eclipsed and then conquered Aegina in the 5th century BC. 

Between 1826 and 1828, Aegina town became the first capital of the new Greek state after winning independence and the new government of Greece was set-up there. 

Aegina Town is a picturesque harbour town, overflowing with colourful fishing and coastal boats and a lively waterfront lined with neoclassical buildings, taverns, churches and many stands selling Aegina’s famous pistachios, considered the tastiest in the world. 

Aegina. Greece.
View of the East and North sides of the Temple of Aphaia or Afea, Aegina Greece.

On eastern side of the island, set atop a pine crested hill, stands the impressive 5th century BC Temple of Aphaia, which is one of the best-preserved ancient temples from the ancient Greek world. Dedicated to Aphaia, a local goddess, the perfectly proportioned Doric Temple has twenty-five of the original 32 monolithic limestone columns still standing. 

The Temple of Aphaia, together with the Parthenon in Athens and Temple of Poseidon at Sounion, form a perfect isosceles triangle which continues to mystify scholars today.

Aegina is easily reachable from the port of Piraeus, with many ferries available throughout the day ranging from approximately 40 minutes to 75 minutes in travel time.

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All Images, Text and Content are Copyright Steven Sklifas