Valley of the Temples, Agrigento 

The Valley of the Temples, in Agrigento, is among the largest archaeological sites in the world. It is located on a plateau not far from the sea and, at the same time, a few steps from the town.

Thanks to its extraordinary universal value, it is among the most important testimonies of the ancient world together with the sites of Pompeii and Herculaneum; in particular, its Doric temples stand out, among the highest expressions of the culture and art of ancient Greece.  

The history of the Valley of the Temples begins in the 6th century B.C. with the founding of the colony of Akragas by the inhabitants of Gela of Rhodes. The maximum splendor was reached in the fifth century BC, when it became one of the most important Greek colonies in Sicily thanks to the cunning of the tyrant Terone and the victory over the Carthaginians during the battle of Himera. A few years later, Carthage takes its revenge by conquering Akragas, which passes two very dark years before returning to shine thanks to the conquest by the Romans, to whom we owe the name Agrigentum.  

Even today, the Valley of the Temples houses the most majestic and best preserved Greek temples of the island, testifying to how the ancient Akragas was one of the most prestigious cities of Magna Graecia. For this reason, UNESCO has decided to recognize the Valley of the Temples as a World Heritage Site since 1997.  

Visiting Sicily should be among the projects of anyone, at least once in a lifetime, and the Valley of the Temples should always be contemplated as a destination. But what to see once you arrive? Here are the must-see attractions!

Tempio della Concordia 

The most beautiful and unmissable building in the whole Valley of the Temples is undoubtedly the Temple of Concordia, which has remained almost entirely intact as evidence of the greatness of the ancient Agrigentum. The structure is more than 13 meters high and consists of 38 columns, each 6.5 meters high.  

The Temple of Concord was built around 440 B.C. and the fact that it was used as a Christian church in the sixth century allowed it to remain in excellent condition. His name, in fact, is the result of an error: the historian Fazello, in fact, at the turn of the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries, found a Latin inscription near the temple that mentioned the goddess of Concord and thought that he was referring to the temple. In fact, later studies have shown that there was no connection between the two, but the name had now been assigned.  

Temple of Hercules 

Among the oldest temples of the archaeological park of Agrigento, the Temple of Hercules has unfortunately not been kept almost intact as the Temple of Concord; Today, in fact, you can admire only 9 columns and thanks only to a donation made by English Alexander Hardcastle. Regardless, it’s still interesting to take a look.  

Temple of Zeus

Another temple of great historical, cultural and architectural value is the Temple of Zeus, of which unfortunately only a few fragments remain. Initially, it is assumed it covered an area of 112×56 meters and was equipped with columns about 20 meters high. To get a clearer idea, it is possible to visit the Archaeological Museum and observe one of the telamons that adorned the temple, that is 7 meters high statues of stone men placed initially between the columns. A copy, in every chaos, is also placed inside the park, right in front of the remains of the temple.   

Foto : Unsplash

Other temples  

The Temple of Concord, the Temple of Zeus and the Temple of Hercules are undoubtedly the three most famous and photographed temples in the whole Valley of the Temples, but they are not the only ones. Other very interesting temples are also:

  • the Temple of Juno, which offers a panoramic view over the whole valley;  
  • the Temple of Dioscuri, also called the Temple of Castor and Pollux, the result of a reconstruction carried out in the early nineteenth century;  
  • the Temple of Demeter, whose remains are preserved inside the Church of San Biagio;  
  • the Temple of Hephaestus, erected on the remains of a previous temple, of which very little remains.

Hellenistic Quarter 

Along with the temples, you can also admire the famous Hellenistic Quarter: although there are very few remains, just the atmosphere to go back in time. It is in this area of the park that, in fact, you can immediately notice the imprint of the ancient cities, with the main streets divided into decumani and cardi. There are also the remains of some private houses, wells, spas and shops.  

Archaeological museum  

Finally, before leaving the Valley of the Temples, it is recommended to go to the Archaeological Museum, which is worth the visit even if it requires the purchase of a separate ticket. It is one of the six most prestigious archaeological museums in Italy, which houses more than 5 thousand finds that can tell the story not only of Akragas but, more generally, of ancient Greece. Inside you can admire works and artifacts, pieces belonging to private collections and objects donated by other museums. The highlights are certainly the Temple of Jupiter and the statue of Ephesus.  

All that remains is to book your next trip to Sicily, buy your ticket to the Valley of the Temples of Agrigento and make a journey into the past in the name of art, in an atmosphere that knows no comparison.

Copertina: Unsplash

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