Valley of the Temples in Agrigento
UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1997
The rediscovery of Akragas began towards the end of the eighteenth century, when the first European travellers reached there who, at that time, ventured to Sicily discovering unexpected and immense artistic and archaeological wealth.
In an enchanted valley, with almond trees in bloom, it is the most impressive group of monuments of all of Magna Greece. The unique charm of this site is also found in this blend of cultural environment defined by man and the natural landscape.
The valley of the temples is certainly the most important testimony of the ancient classical culture of these places. It brings together the temples of the gods and goddesses as well as the area of the necropolis and sanctuaries outside the walls.
The temple of Castor and Pollux (Dioscuri), the legendary twins born from the union of the queen of Sparta with Jupiter, has become the symbol of the city of Agrigento. Today only four columns remain.
The temple of Olympian Zeus (Jupiter) was built to thank Zeus marking the victory in 480 BC of the Agrigentines over the Carthaginians, about 2500 years ago. Here the atlases are found, which are gigantic statues in human form.
The temple of Concordia is located along the via Sacra, which was also built around the 5th century BC. It is now one of the best preserved temples. In the sixth century, after eleven centuries about 1400 years ago, it was transformed into a sacred building. The name Concordia comes from a Latin inscription found near the temple itself.
The temple of Heracles (Hercules) is the oldest one. The god was worshipped with special focus by the people of Akragas. Inside there was a bronze statue of Hercules himself, loved as a national hero. The temple was destroyed by an earthquake and today only eight columns remain.
The temple of Aesculapius was built far outside the ancient walls of the city, a place of pilgrimage for the sick who asked to be healed by the God of Medicine. The walls of the temple were covered by the words of the sick who obtained healing.
The tomb of Theron, near the Golden Gate, an imposing monument of tuff stone. In the shape of a pyramid, it was erected in memory of the fallen in the Second Punic War, in 202 BC, about 2200 years ago.
The temple of Vulcano dating from the fifth century, about 2500 years ago, was an imposing building. Today, very little remains there. In the foundations, the remains of an archaic temple were found.
The name of the temple of Juno (Hera Lavinia), like that of the nearby Temple of Concordia, is conventional (the result of a confusion with the temple of Hera at Crotone), but it’s nice to think that this temple, located spectacularly on a cliff, in the summit east of the magical hill, could have hosted the worship of the goddess of fertility. In 406 B.C., about 2400 years ago, this magnificent temple, almost identical to that of Concordia, was destroyed by the Carthaginians. Nearby, there is also a clearly visible big altar for sacrifices (in the East) and a section of street deeply furrowed by carts coming from gate III of the city.