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Agrigento and The Valley of the Temples

Villas in Sicily near Agrigento

Agrigento - The Valley of the TemplesAkragas was founded in 581 BC by farmers coming from Gela and Rhodes. It stretched along 450ha and was surrounded by Akragas river (the current San Biagio river) and Hypsas river (the current Sant’Anna), which flew onto San Leone river and then to the sea, where the ancient harbour was located.

Erected to protect the southern coast of Sicily between Gela and Selinunte, the town territory included Akragas hill - the actual Rupe Atenea - and the valley delimited south by a series of rocky hills. The imposing buildings still standing recall the grandeur of the ancient town praised by Pindar as ''the most beautiful of mortal cities'' and counting over 200.000 inhabitants in the V century BC. The actual Archaeological Park includes the sacred temples, the necropolis, the Hellenistic-Roman district, the ancient walls and gates ruins and the underground water-supply system. Remains of prehistoric settlements have been recently found on Girgenti hill, where the Acropolis laid.

Like most of Greek towns, Akragas was divided into sections: the upper one hosted the holy sanctuaries, while the lower one housed private houses and public buildings. The majestic and imposing temples in Doric style were made of tuff, the yellow-coloured local calcareous stone. Most likely they were covered with coats of marble dust and painted. Traces of this colourful decoration are still visible here and there.

The lower town plan consisted of long orthogonal arteries creating regularly-sized blocks. Around the town, a robust fortification system stretched along the crests of the hills and the nearby deep valleys. The town gates opened at the intersections between the defensive walls and the main roads. One of them, called Porta Aurea, laid between the temple of Zeus and the temple of Hercules, right where the actual Via dei Templi runs at the current time.

Villas in Sicily near Agrigento

Ruins of Temple with Agrigento on the background

The Temple of Concord, built around 440 BC

A path way in the Valley of Temples

The Temple of Heracles

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