Agrigento Valley of the Temples - Agrigento monuments - Agrigento things to see - Agrigento Archaeological Area - travel links
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Agrigento Guide Italy

Valley of the Temples

Valley of the Temples is the most renowned attraction in Agrigento, a large archeological site containing the remains of various Doric temples dating from the 5th century B.C. Hours are from 9:00 a.m. to sunset. A fee is required to enter.

The Temple of Concordia
erected around 430 B.C., is the best-preserved among the Doric temples of the Greek world, and one of the most beautiful in proportion and harmony of form. It is a four-sided structure measuring 20 by 42 meters. The elegant and airy colonnade, following the classic model, has 6 by 13 columns, each of a height of 6.75 meters. The temple underwent major transformation and adaptations after the 6th century A.D., when Bishop Gregory transferred the seat of the cathedral to Agrigento. Because of this, the temple was saved from the destruction wrought upon the other temples at the hands of Christian fanaticism. North of the temple extends the Paleochristian Byzantine Necropolis, a vast complex of open-air tombs.

The Temple of Giunone
at the far end of the hill of temples, is identical in dimension to the Temple of Concordia. The view from the Valley of the Temples is simply striking. The edifice holds 40 columns, 16 with capitals. To the east lie the sacrificial altars, which according to Greek religious practices were located outside of the temple.

The temple of Hercules
is the most ancient of the Agrigento's temples. It was built in peripteral hexastyle (an architectural style using a single row of columns on all sides, and 6 frontal columns in the portico) but on the long sides it had 15 columns instead of the usual 14. There are 8 of this type of temple standing on the south side. The ruins clearly show that the temple was destroyed by an earthquake. To the south of the Temple of Hercules stands the Temple of Terone, a truly imposing sepulchral monument, made up of two superimposed sections: a nearly cubical podium and a kind of small Doric temple with false doors and angular Ionic columns.

The Temple of Olympian Zeus
of which remains only massive ruins, was one of the largest buildings of Greek architecture, measuring 112.60 by 56.30 meters. It was built in 480 b.C. in honor of Zeus, after the great victory brought against the Carthaginians. The shape of this temple was absolutely unique due to its feature of having a wall surrounding the temple with half-columns emerging up from it. Between them stood impressive statues of giants, the telamones, which functioned as load-bearing supports for the structure. A copy of one of these giants remains among the ruins, while the originals are on display at the Archeological Museum.

In the area of the Valley of the Temples also lie the less preserved of the other sacred buildings, like the Temple of Asclepion, the Temple of Castor and Pollux and the Temple of Ephestus.

Hellenistic-Roman Quarter
Leaving the Hill of Temples and coming toward the city, we come upon the excavations of the Hellenistic-Roman quarter, a zone comprised of 4 parallel centers, from which emerged dwellings and shops dating from between the 3rd century B.C. and 4th century A.D. Many dwellings are decorated with mosaics of various kinds and constructions. Note also the presence of wells, cisterns and sewer systems with which the city was equipped.

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Photos are courtesy of: AAPIT Agrigento and APT Trapani

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