|The town of Agrigento
Tourism in Agrigento
The Valley of the Temples is still today the most sublime evidence of the Greek civilization in Sicily.
In a countryside of blooming almond trees, your eyes enjoy the wonderful ruins of the temples which even after centuries still keep their architectural grandeur intact.
The Valley of the Temple rises southernmost, on the traces of the old towan and it includes many temples built in the 5th century BC.
They were erected with local tufa in Doric style and oriented towards east: at dawn the statue of the god, placed inside the entrance cell, was fully illuminated.
Photo © Affinità Elettive
The Valley is now an archaeological park over a large area where there are, almost in a line, some temples named after the Greek gods. Walking along the path we find:
The temple of Olympian Zeus (Jupiter) was built to thank Zeus after the successful war of the Agrigentinians against the Carthaginians in 480 BC.
Originally the temple was 113 metres long and 56 metres large, one of the most impressive in ancient times. It had a trabeations supported by 20 metre tall columns alternated by the so-called Telamoni, huge man-like statues. Many of the tufa blocks have peculiar U-shape cuts, which were used to channel the rope when lifting and setting the stones.
Photo © Turi Calvino
The temple of Castor and Pollux (Dioscuri) was built in the 5th century BC and dedicated to Leda and Zeus's twins. The temple, which is also the symbol of Agrigento, has only four columns and some of the trabeation standing. Close to it, two sacrificial altars have been found. One is a square, the other one is a rectangle, probably belonging to an original sanctuary dedicated to the infernal gods.
The temple of Heracles (Hercules) is the oldest and eight tapered columns are still standing (they are slimmer at the top in order to look taller).
Photo © Affinità Elettive
The temple of Concorde is the only temple still standing in its whole. It was built in 430 BC, and in the 6th century BC it was changed into a sacred building: you can still see the arches included in the central cell walls. Here there are massive tapered columns and the frieze is decorated with triglyphs and metopes. The name Concorde comes from a Latin inscription founded nearby the temple itself.
The temple of Hera Lacinia (Juno) was built around the 5th century BC and set on fire by the Carthaginians in 406 BC. It was attributed to Juno, the goddess of marriage and birth, and it still keeps unchanged the entrance cell colonnade (in part restored in the 20th century). Exiting the temple and going east, there is its altar.