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Travel info for visiting Valley of the Temples (in 2022)

A major archaeological park in the Mediterranean

Address

Valle dei Templi, 92100 Agrigento AG, Italy

GPS: 37.291650910952, 13.586549686118

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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.

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  • The gigantism and splendour of the Greek monuments, including the Temple of Concordia (the best preserved), the Temple of Heracles or Hercules (the oldest), the ruins of the Temple of Olympian Zeus or Olympeion (one of the largest Greek temples in the world), the Doric columns of the Temple of Hera Lacinia, the ruins of the Temples of Juno and Vulcan (or Hephaestus)
  • The Sanctuary of the Chthonic Deities (Greek) located near the ruins of the Temple of the Dioscuri (characterised by its four columns) and the early Christian necropolis (series of tombs)
  • The ruins of ancient walls, houses, streets and an ancient amphitheatre; the large telamons of the temples (colossal stone statues)
  • The remains on the hill of San Nicola; the Kolymbetra garden and the ancient aqueducts; the statue of Icarus (in bronze); the kilns and ancient ceramic workshops
  • The contemplation of the temples during a sunrise or sunset; the view of the Valley of the Temples from the sea
  • The marble Ephebe and the original Telamon from the Temple of Olympian Zeus, both on display at the Regional Archaeological Museum in Agrigento
  • The fields of almond and olive trees
  • The annual Sagra del Mandorlo in Fiore festival celebrating the almond blossom in Agrigento (first week of February); the Carnival of Sciacca in February, one of the most important in the country (this seaside town is located west of the Valley of the Temples)
  • The cultural museums of Agrigento: the Mudia or museo Diocesano (collection of ecclesiastical objects and antique furniture); the Fabbriche Chiaramontane Art Gallery (modern and contemporary art)…
  • The Temple of Concordia, transformed into a Christian basilica in the 6th century, is the best preserved building in the archaeological area of the Valley of the Temples. Together with the Parthenon on the Acropolis of Athens (Greece) and the Second Temple of Hera in Paestum (Italy), it is one of the best preserved Greek temples in the world.
  • In the 18th century, the stone blocks of some monuments in the Valley of the Temples were dismantled to construct buildings in Agrigento and the quays of the port of Porto Empedocle.
  • The Valley of the Temples is one of the largest archaeological parks in the world and many of its treasures have yet to be discovered. In 2016, a previously unknown ancient theatre was uncovered. A major excavation campaign has been ongoing since 2020.
  • Along with China, Italy is the country with the most UNESCO World Heritage sites in the world (55 natural or cultural sites).
  • The route linking the various remains of the Valley of the Temples can easily be done on foot, but it is best to avoid summer to visit because of the stifling heat of the place.
  • A stop to the Regional Archaeological Museum “Pietro Griffo” in Agrigento will allow you to learn more about the history and archaeological heritage of the Valley of the Temples (the museum is closed on Sundays, Monday afternoons and all afternoons on public holidays).
  • The Valley of the Temples has recently become fully accessible to people with disabilities or reduced mobility. It is the first archaeological park to offer two electric wheelchairs for hire free of charge for three hours. The request can be made to the park services at the latest the day before the visit. Tools developed on site (panels in Braille, videos in sign language, etc.) allow the hearing and visually impaired to fully enjoy the site.

Where to eat

  • Gastronomia Rosticceria Palumbo...
    (Sicilian roastery)
  • Trattoria Pizzeria Da Mimmo
    (local and efficient cuisine)
  • Il Re di Girgenti
    (well-exposed terrace)

Where to go

  • Scala dei Turchi
    (superb limestone cliff)
  • Church of Santa Maria dei Greci
    (on the foundations of a temple)
  • Farm Cultural Park
    (culture in all its forms)

Where to stay

  • B&B Serenata
    (ideally placed)
  • B&B Liola
    (of great kindness)
  • Hotel Foresteria Baglio Della Luna
    (attractive domain)

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