Valle dei Templi in Agrigento is the most important testimony of Ancient Greek architecture in Italy. The seven temples are quite a good reason for a visit, but there is even much more…
Valle dei Templi: Greece in Sicily
La Valle dei Templi – the Valley of the Temples – lays on the slopes of the hill that goes down to the sea from Agrigento.
Agrigento was founded by Greek settlers in VI Century BC. As it often happened for Greek settlements, the place was strategically chosen: on an easily defensible hill, not far from the sea.
The temples complex was then developed between Agrigento and its harbour: Porto Empedocle (the place that inspired Andrea Camilleri’s town of Vigata – Camilleri was born in Porto Empedocle in 1925).
Valle dei Templi: seven temples for a rich colony
Agrigento became quite soon a very important settlement, and its golden age ended because of the Punic Wars: Carthage and Rome relentlessly contended each other the control of Sicily and of the strategically important harbour of Agrigento.
But the seven temples are still there to remember that golden age…
Seven temples between victories and defeats
Then: what are the magnificent seven of the Valle dei Templi?
Temple of Concordia: V Century BC. Renamed during the Roman domination after the goddess of harmony. For a while it has been a Christian church in Middle Ages.
Temple of Juno: V Century BC. Damaged by the Carthaginians. Hera / Juno is the queen of the gods, Zeus’ wife.
Temple of Heracles: probably the oldest one, it was destroyed by an earthquake, only eight columns are still standing.
Temple of Olympian Zeus: 480 BC to celebrate the victory over Carthage. Its peculiarity is the use of huge atlases figures as columns.
Temple of Castor and Pollux: dedicated to the “wonder twins” of Greek mythology, it is almost completely in ruins.
Temple of Vulcan: V Century BC. Another badly damaged one. As Sicily is land of volcanoes, a temple dedicated to the god of smithing who lives under Mount Etna is no surprise…
Temple of Asclepius: located far from the ancient town’s walls; it was the goal of pilgrims seeking cures for illness.
Valle dei Templi: not only… Templi!
But the Valley of the Temples has even more to offer: the Kolymbetra Garden is a beautiful oasis where you can experience the Sicilian lush flora: orange, almond and olive trees. The XIII Century San Nicola church is now part of the Agrigento National Archeological Museum.