The Valley of the Temples in Agrigento
The rediscovery of Akragas began towards the end of the 18th century, when the first European travellers arrived and ventured into Sicily, discovering an unexpected and immense artistic and archaeological heritage.
In an enchanted valley with flowering almond trees, there stands the most impressive monumental ensemble of Hellenic architecture in Sicily. In this mixture of man-made cultural environment and natural landscape lies all the charm of this UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Valle dei Templi – the Valley of the Temples – is undoubtedly the most important vestige of ancient classical culture in Sicily. It comprises the temples of the gods, as well as the necropolis area and the extra-moenia sanctuaries.
The Temple of the Dioscuri (Castor and Pollux), the legendary twins born from the union of the queen of Sparta with Jupiter, now has only four columns and has become the symbol of the city of Agrigento.
The Temple of Olympian Zeus (Jupiter) was built to thank the god Zeus for the 480 BC victory of the Agrigentines over the Carthaginians. Here are the Telamones, gigantic statues with human features.
The Temple of Concordia, also built around the 5th century, is located along the Via Sacra and is the best preserved. In the 6th century, it was transformed into a sacred building. The name Concordia comes from a Latin inscription found in the vicinity of the temple.
In front of the temple, we can admire the Statue of Icarus, donated by the Polish sculptor Igor Mitoraj. The statue represents the fall of Icarus, who disobeyed his father Daedalus, flew too close to the sun, burnt his wax wings and fell into the Mediterranean.
The Temple of Heracles (Hercules) is the oldest. It housed a bronze statue of the hero Hercules himself, who was particularly venerated by the Akragantines. The temple, destroyed by war and probably by an earthquake, today retains only eight columns of the original 38.
The Temple of Aesculapius The temple of Aesculapius was built well outside the ancient city walls, a place of pilgrimage for the sick who sought healing. The walls of the temple bore the inscriptions of the sick who were cured.
La Tomb of Theron, near the Porta Aurea – The Golden Gate, is an imposing pyramid-shaped tufa stone monument. It was erected to commemorate those who died in the Second Punic War.
The Temple of Vulcan, whose ruins suggest an imposing construction, dates back to the 5th century.
The Temple of Juno, spectacularly located on the eastern summit of the magical hill, housed the cult of the goddess of fertility. Its name, like that of the nearby Temple of Concord, is conventional, the result of a misinterpretation of a Latin inscription that confuses it with the Temple of Hera in Crotone. The traces of fire, still clearly visible on the walls of the cella, are a reminder of the terrible year 406 BC, when this magnificent temple, almost identical to that of Concordia, was also destroyed by the Carthaginians. Nearby, a large altar for sacrifices (to the east) and a stretch of road deeply furrowed by chariot wheels, coming from Gate III of the city, are still clearly visible.
Follow the Valley of the Temples Archaeological and Landscape Park itinerary.
Find out more about the Valley of the Temples on izi.TRAVEL! And for young explorers, here is the audio tour of the Valley of the Temples for the little ones.