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

Tony Duffy (6 months ago)
The scale of this site is truly breathtaking and, whilst some of the temples are little more than ruins, there is still a sense of awe and wonder to be had from walking around the huge megaliths. Allow at least 3-4 hours to take in all the sites. An absolute must for anyone with even a passing interest in history and/or architecture.
Karol Bruder (8 months ago)
An absolute must have. A place totally recommendable. Great historic sites and statues. Clean and well-planned paths. If you are wondering if it is worth trying, I recommend you try it.
Gijs Giesen (8 months ago)
Must see when in Sicily. Very impressive to see what kind of huge temples the Roman people build. Tip is to visit during golden hour. You'll get the best pictures and also not that hot. The park has 3 big temples in a walk of about 1000m from each other. There is not much shelter on the mountain, so it can be quite hot between 13 and 16hrs. There are also some drink/eat facilities.
Richard Smeaton (8 months ago)
Potentially the best set of ancient ruins I have walked around! Takes around 2 hours to do them all, I would recommend starting late afternoon so you can see them during day and night. No audio guide to buy but they have an app which functions as one for free which is useful. Lots of signs in Italian and English plus a great cafe half way through.
Matt Graves (9 months ago)
One of the best historic sites i have been to. Amazing examples of Greek temples and superb full size mock-ups of construction machines and techniques. 12 Euro to get in with kids under 18 free. Be prepared for some walking as the temples and ruins are spread over around 2 kilometers along a rocky ridge line, and there are gardens in the valley. There is a good cafe and toilets half way along the walk along the ridge line.
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