The Valley of the Temples
The Valley of the Temples is one of the most famous archaeological sites in Italy, as well as the largest in the world. The site is 5 kilometers from the centre of Agrigento (the ancient Akragas, a city founded by the Greeks in the VI century BC). This wonderful corner of Sicily has a lot to offer, and in the summer season thousands of tourists come to admire these majestic temples.
The archaeological area, visited every year by visitors from all over the world, is in excellent condition and has been a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1997. The Valley of the Temples in Agrigento is very rich in temples and monuments, including the Temple of Hera (Juno) Lacinia, erected at a height of 120 meters, dating back to 450 – 440 BC; the Temple of Concordia (the best preserved of all), built starting from 430 BC; and above all the Temple of Demeter (480 – 470 BC), a very interesting example of a building without the external colonnade and formed by a simple cell preceded by a pronaos with two columns. In addition to the temples there are three sanctuaries, the necropolis, hydraulic works, fortifications, the Lower Agora and the Upper Agora, an Olympeion and a Bouleuterion (a public building linked to the meetings of the boule – the assembly of representatives elected by the people – with purely legislative functions).
You can decide to visit the Valley of the Temples wandering among the monuments in complete freedom, or with an expert guide (or an audio guide), to discover this extraordinary cultural heritage. The path inside the Valley of the Temples starts from the Rupe Atenea, where the Sanctuary of Zeus Atabyrios and Athena Lindia were located and where today – on the eastern end – it is possible to admire the Temple of Demeter (incorporated in the medieval church of San Biagio), the rock sanctuary of Demeter and Persephone and the remains of Greek fortifications.
The Via Sacra (Sacred way) instead cuts the Collina dei Templi (Hill of the Temples) in two parts. On the left are the remains of the Greek walls and above all the Temple of Concordia, one of the best preserved in the Greek world. Continuing, on the right you can admire Villa Aurea, an underground burial area, and the Temple of Hercules, the oldest of the Agrigento temples. Crossing the Via Sacra you enter the area of the colossal Temple of Zeus (or Olympic Jupiter), one of the largest in the Greek world, and – below – the Sanctuary of Demeter and Persephone.
A little further on is the Kolymbetra garden, an enchanted place where you can immerse yourself in the Mediterranean scrub and the scent of citrus fruits. The visitor is delighted by its beauty. Here, in fact, after visiting the Archaeological Park of the Valley of the Temples, you can rest, seek refreshment among orange blossoms and lemons, almond trees, prickly pears and mulberries and admire the Temple of the Dioscuri from a unique perspective.
The last places of interest are the Ekklesiasterion, the Oratory of Falàride and the National Archaeological Museum, home to the splendid Ephebe of Agrigento, ideal for those who want to deepen the historical, archaeological, literary, mythological and botanical aspects of the Valley of the Temples.
The archaeological park of the Valley of the Temples is open every day from 8.30 to 19.00 (during the summer there are also evening and night openings). Admission is free on the first Sunday of each month. The recommended time to visit the Valley of the Temples is a full day. Of course you can combine an excursion to the Valley of the Temples with a visit to the nearby city of Agrigento, certainly worthy of being included in the tour of Sicily.
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