The Valley of the Temples is a must for travelers exploring Sicily not only for the Temples themselves but also for the surrounding landscape. It is definitely the most famous attraction in Sicily.
The Valley of the Temples is part of the Unesco heritage since 1997 and it is considered the largest Archeological site in the world counting about 1300 hectares.
History of the Valley of the Temples
The history of this impressive valley starts with the foundation of Akragas in 580 BC by the Greeks. The original temples, built in the 5th century BC, were burnt down by the Carthaginians and recovered and renovated by the Romans four centuries later. Unfortunately now, there is only one temple left, the Temple of Concord. The temples were probably destroyed by the Christians or fell because they were unable to resist earthquakes.
Temple of Hercules: it is belived to be the oldest of the temples. It probably dates back to the VI century BC because of the simplicity of the layout and of the columns; such columns are doric meaning the most simple columns that the Greeks built and were the first to be developed. The columns were originally 38 in number, but now only eight of them are still intact.
Temple of Concord: this temple is unusually well preserved thanks to its transformation into a church in the 6th century AD. The name comes from a Latin inscription found nearby.
Temple of Juno: the original structure can be intuited because some of the columns are still standing. Often, this temple was used by the Greeks to celebrate weddings. The wedding ritual of the Greeks was quite interesting: the young couple, before getting married, made an offering to the Goddess with a lamb. The lamb was wet with cold water and, if it shook, it signified that the marriage was going to be an unlucky one, and so the celebration was not carried out. There is still today an impressive sacrificial altar.
Temple of Jupiter: unfortunately this temple is total ruins. The ruins give the impression that the structure had an immense size. It was, in fact, the largest temple of the ancient western world. The Temple of Jupiter was built to honor Zeus. Along with the columns there were Telamoni, huge statues standing 7 meters in height.
Temple of Castor and Pollux: this temple was partially reconstructed at the beginning of the 1800s, with pieces of other constructions.
The Temples are made of sandstone tuff, which offers a amazing colors at sunset when the Valley of the Temples become golden…
The Valley of the Temples is easily reachable from Agrigento. For more info on the opening hours (in certain periods of the year you can also do a night tour admiring the Valley of the Temples illuminated beneath the moon) and tours visit the official website.