Valle dei Templi
The Valley of the Temples is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and one of Sicily's most popular attractions. The Greek colony of Akagras was developed in the 6th century BC, with a string of incredible temples to show for its prosperity. The Valle dei Templi is the world's largest archeological park, covering 1600 hectares (3950 acres) and includes the ruins of seven temples, city walls, an entry gate, the agora and the Roman forum, along with necropoli and sanctuaries. It is, in a word, spectacular.
The ancient constructions are in various states, some excellently preserved, others badly eroded, but considering that they've endured for millennia, it's an amazing sight. The city was cited by Cicero and Livy in ancient texts. The Lower Agora contained shops, a gymnasium, and a sacred area while the Upper Agora was the public meeting place. A Roman forum was added when they conquered the area and absorbed the former Greek colonies under the Empire.
The temples at the site are:
JUNO. Built in the 5th century BC, it's thought that it was used for wedding ceremonies.
CONCORDIA. The best preserved of the temples, it's named for a Latin inscription found on the site. This temple had been used as a Christian church in the 6th century AD.
HERCULES. Dedicated to Heracles, the most venerated god of Akagras, this is the oldest of the temples. It was mostly destroyed in an earthquake.
ZEUS OLYMPIC. Built in 480 BC to commemorate their victory over Carthage.
CASTOR AND POLLUX. Only 4 columns remain of this temple yet it is a symbol of Agrigento today.
VULCAN. Built in the 5th century BC it now mostly eroded but it thought to have been the grandest of the temples.
ASCLEPIUS. Located outside the walls, this was the destination of the sick and ailing looking for a cure.
There is also a monument known as the Tomb of Theron, a pyramid-shaped memorial to commemorate the Romans who died in the second Punic War.
All told, there is a massive amount of ancient history to explore in this one site.
The Valley of the Temples is open daily from 8:30 AM til 7:00 PM. Admission cost is 10. There is an impressive archeology museum containing the artifacts found at the site that shouldn't be missed.
Address in Agrigento:
Valle dei Templi.
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