Valle dei Templi, 92100 Agrigento AG, Italy
GPS: 37.291650910952, 13.586549686118
Visiting Valley of the Temples: Located south of the Italian city of Agrigento, the Valley of the Temples is the most prominent ancient site in Sicily. Its 13 km² archaeological park is home to numerous Greek remains, including a dozen temples built in the space of a hundred years, between the 6th and 5th centuries BC. In ancient times, the southern Italian region and the island of Sicily were conquered by the Phoenicians and then the Greeks in search of more fertile agricultural land. They attached these territories of the Italian peninsula to Magna Graecia (meaning “Greater Greece”), which then extended over a vast maritime empire around the Mediterranean. The Greeks developed commercial exchanges by sea and imported their construction technique, of Dorian influence, to create the site of the Valley of the Temples.
The archaeological area of Agrigento bears witness to the ancient city of Akragas, founded by settlers from Rhodes (an island in the Aegean Sea) in 582 BC. Considered one of the most advanced places in Greek civilisation, Akragas would have prospered thanks to the cultivation of olives, wine and cereals. Built along a rocky hillside, the temples are constructed of limestone. Originally, the lower parts are covered with white stucco while the upper parts are decorated with bright colours. Symbols of the region’s prosperity in classical times, all the temples are in Doric style. The temple dedicated to Olympian Zeus reaches exceptional dimensions (100 metres long and 55 metres wide). It is the largest Doric temple in the world and one of the largest Greek temples ever built in the history of Ancient Greece. In view of this incomparable heritage and its numerous archaeological remains, the city of Akragas was certainly one of the greatest Hellenistic civilizations.
The architectural complex of the Valley of the Temples is built in a strategic area for the control of the Mediterranean Sea, an area subject to many conflicts. These unprecedented constructions are protected by a fortified enclosure 12 kilometres long and accessible through 9 gates. Most of the temples were named after Greek gods (Athena, Hera, Hephaestus…) and were burnt down by the Carthaginians in 406 BC. The site fell into oblivion before being annexed by the Romans in 210 BC who named it Agrigentum. They took over the site and restored the temples to their original Doric style. This enchanting 2,600 year old place has attracted the attention of poets, scholars, artists, writers and travellers since ancient times.