Valley of the Temples - Agrigento

Magical journey through the temples

Akragas, Panoramic View (-580)Valley of the Temples


Founded in 580 BC by settlers from the colony rhodium - Cretan Gela, the city occupied a large calcarenitic plateau delimited and naturally defended by steep cliffs, surrounded by Akragas and Hypsas rivers and not far from the sea. The harbour of city was placed at the mouth of the river Akragas, where now stands the fishing village of San Leone.

Video Akragas (-600)Valley of the Temples

Important characteristic of the topography of Akragas is the location along the walls of the main holy buildings and shrines.

Chtonic Deities (-500)Valley of the Temples

It was assumed that the entire area constituted one big sacred area, which had celebrated their tesmoforici cults, celebrated by women to propitiate fertility

Kolymbethra, From the collection of: Valley of the Temples
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This great work has been identified between the sanctuary of the Chthonic Gods and the temple of Vulcan, in which flow eighteen underground culverts

Temple of Hephaestus, Duke of Serradifalco (-430)Valley of the Temples

Temple of Hephaestus

The Temple of Vulcan is located beyond Kolymbetra, on a small rocky plateau degrading from east to west. It was originally a canonical Doric temple, with six columns on the short side and thirteen on the long side, of which only two remain. The temple dates from the last third of the fifth century BC, while inside the cell were discovered the foundations of a pre-existing archaic temple, of which were found some elements of the decoration of the roof, made of polychrome earthenware, displayed at the Archaeological Museum.

Temple of Zeus (-480)Valley of the Temples

Temple of Zeus

The Temple of Zeus is the largest Doric Temple in the West end it has original architectural solutions. According to a passage of Diodoro Siculo, it was immediately built after the Battle of Himera (480 BC), which indicates the victory of the Greek cities of Sicily over Carthaginians. According to ancient sources, besides, the construction of the temple was never completed.The building was situated on a huge rectangular platform (56,30x113,45 meters), over which raised a base of five steps (crepidoma), of which the last was high twice than the others and formed a sort of high podium isolating the temple from the surrounding environment.

Temple of Zeus, Altar (-480)Valley of the Temples

The ancient historian Diodoro Siculo tells that on the pediments were sculpted Gigantomachia (struggle between the gods and the Giants) on one hand, and the conquest of Troy on the other

GymnasiumValley of the Temples

Temple of Hercules (-600)Valley of the Temples

Temple of Hercules

The temple of Hercules is the most archaic of the great Doric temples in Agrigento, it has been built in the late 6th century BC. Even the attribution of this temple is uncertain: it appears in a passage in Cicero that recalls the existence of a temple dedicated to Hercules in the agora, recognized in the northest area

Temple of Hercules, -600, From the collection of: Valley of the Temples
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Built in local limestone, it is a Doric temple, entirely surrounded by columns, six on the fronts and 15 on each of the sidess

Temple of Concord (-400)Valley of the Temples

Temple of Concord

On of the best preserved temples of the greek world is the temple of the Concordia, which was built around 440/430 BC. The temple is surrounded by columns (six on the fronts and thirteen on the long sides), enclosing a closed cell in which was kept the statue of the deity, preceded by a vestibule and followed by a rear compartment, both with two columns in the front.

Temple of Concord (-400)Valley of the Temples

Temple of Concord (-400)Valley of the Temples

In the Christian era (VI century. A.D.),the temple was transformed into a Christian church, through the opening of the arches in the walls of the cell and the closing of the spaces between the columns

Early Christian NecropolisValley of the Temples

Early Christian Necropolis

In early Christian period the entire southern part of the hill temple was occupied by a large necropolis, a sign that the urban perimeter was significantly reduced. On the same walls, tombs arcosolium were carved, surmounted by a niche that is arched carved into the rock; in the underground, reusing the oldest tanks in several cases, were dug underground tombs, among which the largest is the underground Fragapane

Early Christian Necropolis, From the collection of: Valley of the Temples
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Around the entrance of this underground is visible a large sector of the necropolis sub divo, that is in the open

The goatsValley of the Temples

The Archaeological Park of Agrigento has recently introduced some goats of a native species at the risk of extinction : the girgentana goat, with its typical twisted horns

Temple of Juno (-400)Valley of the Temples

Temple of Juno

The temple of Juno occupies the south-eastern side of the hill of temples. It was built between 460 and 440 a. C.

Temple of Juno (-400)Valley of the Temples

The Temple of Juno has 6 columns per 13; the cell is preceded by a vestibule and followed by a posterior part, both with two columns on the front.

Temple of Juno (-400)Valley of the Temples

In front of the facade of the temple there is the monumental altar, with a staircase of 10 steps that had to lead to the shelf where they carried out the sacrifices.

Church of San Biagio (-480)Valley of the Temples

Church of San Biagio

The temple of Demeter is on the eastern slopes of the Rock of Athena. Built of local limestone in 480/470 BC, the building is of the Doric order, without colonnade, with a cell preceded by two columns between the altar piece. The roof was decorated with Lion’s head dripstones. The temple’s remains were embedded in the medieval church of San Biagio, of Norman Age; behind the apse of the church you can see the foundations of the building. Along the north side are disposed two round altars with central well, discovered full of votive offerings,

The hillock of San NicolaValley of the Temples

The hillock of San Nicola

On the hillock of San Nicola, where actually appears the “Pietro Griffo” Regional Archaeological Museum, there was probably the main square of the ancient city, the agora of Hellenistic Age and the Forum of Roman Age

The hillock of San NicolaValley of the Temples

On the southern side of the hillock, there is a meeting building, characterized by a cavea similar to a theatre, dug into the rock. The building, interpreted as ekklesiasterion (meeting place for citizens’ assembly), seems to have been built in the IV-III century BC

The hillock of San Nicola, From the collection of: Valley of the Temples
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In the first century BC, it was built the oratory of Phalaris, a small Roman temple on the podium, preceded by stairs, with a cell and a pronao.

Hellenistic-Roman Quarter (-100/+400)Valley of the Temples

Hellenistic-Roman Quarter

The Hellenistic-Roman quarter is a large urban area of Roman Age, made up by three blocks, bounded by the intersection of big East-West roads (decumani) with cardines that is with a dense network of North–South streets. Within the three blocks, there are 27 houses, organized around a central courtyard.

Hellenistic-Roman Quarter, -100/+400, From the collection of: Valley of the Temples
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Many rooms have mosaic floors, which may be black and white or polychrome; some spaces also conserve part of the walls decoration, painted on a thick layer of plaster.

San Nicola aerial shotValley of the Temples

In the actual appearance, the quarter has been developed since the first century BC, with following extensions or subdivisions in individual homes, restorations, remaking of decorative elements, up to the fourth century A.D.

Sanctuary of AsclepiosValley of the Temples

Sanctuary of Asclepios

The temple, of Doric style, consists of an entrance atrium (pronaos), preceded by two columns , and of a rectangular room (cell). It is supposed that the pilgrims, arriving at the sanctuary, started the cultic and therapeutic itinerary with purification rites near the fountain. The itinerary continued with ex-voto offerings in the little wells.

Sanctuary of AsclepiosValley of the Temples

Credits: Story

The exhibition was created by Giusi Messina and Jessica Mannone.
We are pleased to thank the Chamber of Commerce of Agrigento
The Archaeological Park of the Valley of Temples
The director of the archaeological park Giuseppe Parello and archeologist of the park Maria Serena Rizzo

Credits: All media
The story featured may in some cases have been created by an independent third party and may not always represent the views of the institutions, listed below, who have supplied the content.
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