The Valley of the Temples, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, is the largest archaeological site in the world, almost 3,000 acres. It is the site of an ancient city, Akragas, once the fourth largest city in the known world. There are ruins of seven Doric temples. We visited 4 of them.
The Temple of Juno (Hera Lacinia) is the easternmost temple in the valley. Built in the 5th century BC, it was a temple for the cult of the goddess of fertility. There are still traces of fire damage, most likely from an invasion by the Carthaginians in 406 BC. There is also damage from an earthquake in the Middle Ages.
This is a 500 year old olive tree!
There is a paved walk/road that runs along the top of the ridge between the temples.
Great views – looking up the hill to the town of Agrigento
Looking out across the valley
This cliff-line was a natural defensive wall in Greek times. Between the 4th and 7th centuries AD, the urban layout of the Hill of Temples was quite different than in Greek times. Churches were built, re-purposing the temples, and this southern city wall became a cemetery. Tombs called arcosolia were carved into the rock. Stone slabs were used to seal them.
Found in 2005, these two statues are believed to be magistrates from the 1st century AD.
Looking back at the Temple of Juno
Approaching the Temple of Concordia
The Temple of Concordia, built in the 5th century BC, is the best preserved temple in the valley. Its name comes from a Latin inscription “the harmony of the people of Agrigento” found nearby. The outside and inside was covered in stucco and the upper frame had lion-like gutter spouts. The roof was covered in marble tiles.
This temple was converted into the church of Saints Peter and Paul in the 6th century AD. What remained of the church was removed in 1788.
Continuing on our walk to the next temple we passed these curly horned goats.
Looking back at the Temple of Concordia
The Temple of Hercules is the oldest in the valley. Destroyed by an earthquake, there are only eight columns still standing.
The Temple of Olympian Zeus (Olympeion) was built in 480 BC. This would have been the largest Doric temple ever constructed but it was never completed, possibly due to the Carthaginians conquering the city. This temple was later damaged by earthquakes and was quarried to provide building materials for Agrigento.
Today all that is left is a large stone platform and heaps of toppled pillars and stones.
Here you can see one of the huge Telamons laying on his back with arms bent over his head. This is a copy of the original, which is in the museum.
In this temple the columns were not freestanding but instead there was a curtain wall with 38 Telamon figures, each 8 meters high, on pedestals between the columns.
These U-shaped carvings can be found on some of the big stones and had something to do with the construction of the temple.
The square hole in this piece also had a use in the construction of the temple.
The Temple of Zeus would have been quite a site!
Our hotel for the night was Foresteria Baglio Della Luna. It was a lovely spot.
The garden had a view back over the Valley of the Temples and there was a view of the ocean in the other direction.
This was a memorable visit to Agrigento and the Valley of the Temples.