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The Temples at a Glance

Villas in Sicily near Agrigento

Agrigento - The Valley of the TemplesVia dei Templi, leading to the Archaeological Park from modern Agrigento, divides the area into a western and a eastern zone. Beginning the trip from the eastern part, past the remains of the ancient walls, the first temple you may see is the so-called Temple of Concord, the only one still relatively intact. It was built around 430 BC and converted into a Christian basilica in the VI century AD. Luckily, the new tenants reinforced the main structures, allowing it to survive to a later earthquake. In 1788 the temple was restored to its original look, thanks to the intervention of Prince of Torremuzza, noble Palermitan responsible for other archaeological excavations in Sicily. The attribution to a divinity of “Concordia” is due to XVI century Sicilian historian Tommaso Fazello, who claimed to having found the name on a marble inscription in the surroundings of the temple. Temple of Concordia is traditionally visited by brides and grooms on their wedding day for the ritual photographs.

Going further down Via dei Templi, you may see the Temple of Hera, partially destroyed by an earthquake in the Middle Ages. In its surroundings there is a long altar, originally used for sacrifices; the red traces visible on it are the result of a fire, most likely dating back to the Carthaginian sack in 406 BC.

Across the path from the ruins you may see a little temple set on high base. It is known as the Tomb of Theron, a famous Greek tyrant in ancient Akragas, though actually dating back to Roman occupation around 75 BC, about 500 years after the tyrant’s death.

The last temple you may visit in the eastern zone is the Temple of Heracles. Its origin is uncertain but it is believed to be the oldest of the lot, dating back to the end of VI century BC. Eight of its 38 columns were raised in the XIX century.

Across Via dei Templi near the entrance to the western zone, you may find the most imposing remains in the whole park, the crumbled Temple of Olympian Zeus. Covering an area measuring 113,20m x 56,60m, with columns 20m high for a total height of 40m, it would have been the largest Doric temple ever built, if the Carthaginian sack of Akragas in 406 BC had not interrupted its construction. It’s ironic when you think that about 100.000 Carthaginians slaves captured at the battle of Himera in 480 had erected the temple during the almost 80 years before the sack! The unfinished temple was later destroyed by an earthquake, and part of its rubble was used to build the quays in Porto Empedocle during the Middle Ages. Lying on his back amid the rubble you may see a Telamon, the huge sculpted figure of a man with arms raised, used as both decorative and supporting element to bear the temple’s roof. According to historians, 38 of these colossal statues, 8m tall, were located in the intercolumni, at 18m height from the ground. That gives you an idea of the gigantic dimensions of this temple.

Further on you may admire the smaller Temple of Dioscuri, also known as Temple of Castor and Pollux. It was built towards the end of the V century BC, destroyed by Carthaginians, rebuilt in Hellenistic style and finally destroyed by an earthquake. What you see today is the result of a restoration operated in 1832 by using materials from other temples.

Just behind thistemple is a complex of altars and small buildings believed to be part of a Sancutary of Demetra and Kore dating back to early VI century BC. Entering the western part of the Park, and following the southern path at the crossroads, you will find the so-called Temple of Asclepios. The smallest among all temples, it doesn’t have a colonnade, but a perimeter of solid walls.

Villas in Sicily near Agrigento

The Valley of the Temples

Temple of Heracles

The imposing Temple of Concord

The Temple of Hera by night

The Temple of Heracles

Telamon with Agrigento on the background

Temple of Dioscuri

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