The Sicilian town of Agrigento was an important Greek colony in the 6th century BC and today it has some of the best preserved Greek remains outside of Greece itself. The Valley of the Temples (Valle dei Templi) contains a number of ruined temples in a spectacular countryside setting.

Temple of Concordia

Due to its good state of preservation, the Temple of Concordia is ranked amongst the most notable edifices of the Greek civilization existing today. It has a peristasis of 6 x 13 columns built over a basement of 39.44 x 16.91 m; each Doric column has twenty grooves and a slight entasis, and is surmounted by an architrave with triglyphs and metopes; also perfectly preserved are the tympani. The cella, preceded by a pronaos, is accessed by a single step; also existing are the pylons with the stairs which allowed to reach the roof and, over the cella's walls and in the blocks of the peristasis entablature, the holes for the wooden beam of the ceiling. The exterior and the interior of the temple were covered by polychrome stucco. The upper frame had gutters with lion-like protomes, while the roof was covered by marble tiles.

When the temple was turned into a church the entrance was moved to the rear, and the rear wall of the cella was destroyed. The spaces between the columns were closed, while 12 arched openings were created in the cella, in order to obtain a structure with one nave and two aisles. The pagan altar was destroyed and sacristies were carved out in the eastern corners. The sepultures visible inside and outside the temple date to the High Middle Age.

Temple of Hera Lacinia

This temple was constructed on a mostly artificial spur. It dates to c. 450 BC, measuring 38.15 x 16.90 m: it is in Doric style, peripteros six columns wide by thirteen long, preceded by a pronaos and opisthodomos. The basement has four steps.

Current remains (including anastylosis from the 18th century onwards) consist of the front colonnade with parts of the architrave and of the frieze. Only fragments of the other three sides survive, with few elements of the cella. The building was damaged in the fire of 406 BC and restored in Roman times, with the substitution of marble tiles with ones of clay, and the addition of a steep rise in the area where today can be seen the remains of the altar.

Nearby are arcosolia and other sepultures from Byzantine times, belonging to the late 6th century AD renovation of the Temple of Concordia into a Christian church.

Temple of Asclepius

The small temple, probably dating to the late 5th century BC and measuring 21.7 x 10.7 m, rises over a basement with three steps. Its peculiarity is the fake opysthodomus with two semi-columns in the external side of the rear cella. Also extant are parts of the entablature, with lion-like protomes, a frieze and a geison pediment.

The sanctuary housed a bronze statue of Apollo by Myron, a gift to the city by Scipio, which was stolen by Verres.

Temple of Heracles

Stylistically, the temple belongs to the last years of the 6th century BC. It has been also suggested that this temple was one of the first built under Theron. Also the entablature, of which parts have been found, would date it to the 470-460s or the middle 5th century BC (though the more recent remains could be a replacement of the older ones). One hypothesis is that the temple was begun before the Battle of Himera, to be completed only in the following decades. Polyaenus mentions a temple of Athena being built under Theron outside the city, which could be identified with that of "Hercules", though also with a new one in the inner acropolis.

The building, with 20th-century anastylosis, measures 67 x 25.34 m, with a peristasis of 6 x 15  Doric columns and a cella with pronaos and opysthodomus, is located over a three-step basement. It is the first example (later become common in the Agrigento temples) of pylons inserted between the pronaos and cella, housing the stair which allowed inspections of the roof. The columns are rather high and have wide capitals. On the eastern side are remains of the large altar.

Olympeion field

On the other side of the road running through the Golden Gate of the ancient city, is a plain commanded by the huge Olympeion field. This includes a platea with a large temple to Olympian Zeus, plus other areas still under investigation. These include a sanctuary, with remains of a paved square, a complex sacellum ("holy enclosure") and a tholos. This, after another gate, is followed by a sanctuary of chthonic deities, an archaic sanctuary, the so-called colimbetra (where was a still unknown gate) and the tip of the spur where the sanctuary is located, with the temple of Vulcan.

The Olympeion complex's main attraction is the huge temple of Olympian Zeus, which was described with enthusiastic words by Diodorus Siculus and mentioned by Polybius. Today it is reduced to ruins due to destruction begun in antiquity and continued through the 18th century, when the temple was used as a quarry for the port of Porto Empedocle.

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Founded: 500 BCE
Category: Prehistoric and archaeological sites in Italy

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User Reviews

Andreas (18 months ago)
If you visit Sicily just do it! Park at the main lower car park then take the 2 euro taxi ride to the top, you then will end your visit back at the bottom and by your car. Genius stuff! Well done who ever worked that out.
Rebecca Bugeja (18 months ago)
Lovely site to visit. Do dedicate a couple of hours. We did the night tour and it was really enjoyable. The guide was very good too and it was worth paying for
Kasper Sørensen (19 months ago)
Beautiful area. It’s a large area, so bring good walking shoes. We went without any guide, but next time I would prefer a bit more stories than what could be read on plaques etc.
Pam Connell (20 months ago)
One is awestruck to stand before such structures, realise the 1,000.s yrs under your feet and imagine what life was like. To reach is an easy 40min walk downhill from main town, ticket office easy to find, and catch bus back up the hill for €1.6. Best experienced toward sunset.
Sara Dell'Orfanello (20 months ago)
Impressive scenery with all history, amazing walk paths, alleys even places to have a rest. Can also spend time and have a longer break on a terrace with some refreshing drinks, ice cream and sandwiches. Take at least 2h for the tour...
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Hagios Demetrios

The Church of Saint Demetrius, or Hagios Demetrios, is the main sanctuary dedicated to Saint Demetrius, the patron saint of Thessaloniki. It is part of the site Palaeochristian and Byzantine Monuments of Thessaloniki on the list of World Heritage Sites by UNESCO since 1988.

The first church on the spot was constructed in the early 4th century AD, replacing a Roman bath. A century later, a prefect named Leontios replaced the small oratory with a larger, three-aisled basilica. Repeatedly gutted by fires, the church eventually was reconstructed as a five-aisled basilica in 629–634. This was the surviving form of the church much as it is today. The most important shrine in the city, it was probably larger than the local cathedral. The historic location of the latter is now unknown.

The church had an unusual shrine called the ciborium, a hexagonal, roofed structure at one side of the nave. It was made of or covered with silver. The structure had doors and inside was a couch or bed. Unusually, it did not hold any physical relics of the saint. The ciborium seems to have been a symbolic tomb. It was rebuilt at least once.

The basilica is famous for six extant mosaic panels, dated to the period between the latest reconstruction and the inauguration of the Byzantine Iconoclasm in 730. These mosaics depict St. Demetrius with officials responsible for the restoration of the church (called the founders, ktetors) and with children. An inscription below one of the images glorifies heaven for saving the people of Thessalonica from a pagan Slavic raid in 615.

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Following the Great Fire of 1917, it took decades to restore the church. Tombstones from the city"s Jewish cemetery - destroyed by the Greek and Nazi German authorities - were used as building materials in these restoration efforts in the 1940s. Archeological excavations conducted in the 1930s and 1940s revealed interesting artifacts that may be seen in a museum situated inside the church"s crypt. The excavations also uncovered the ruins of a Roman bath, where St. Demetrius was said to have been held prisoner and executed. A Roman well was also discovered. Scholars believe this is where soldiers dropped the body of St. Demetrius after his execution. After restoration, the church was reconsecrated in 1949.