The Valley of the Temples, the Greek heart of Sicily

The Valley of the Temples
The Valley of the Temples
The Valley of the Temples, one of the most extensive, representative and best-preserved archaeological sites of classical Greek civilization in Italy dominates with elegance and majesty the surrounding landscape, between the Sicilian plateaus and the blue sea.

In the common Italian imagination, in addition to beautiful seaside destinations, delicious and varied cuisine and landscapes of unique beauty, Sicily is often associated with the monumental remains of Hellenic temples in the Valley of the Temples, in the province of Agrigento. This immense archaeological site dated between the sixth and second century BC, declared in its entirety World Heritage Site by UNESCO, has enchanted over the centuries writers, philosophers and painters such as Goethe, Maupassant, Dumas, de Stael, Quasimodo and Pirandello.

The polis of Akragas, from the eponymous river that bathes the territory, was one of the main cities of the ancient world, an important urban center both economically and politically. Guardian of a millenary history and witness of the influence of the Greek domination on the Sicilian territory, the Valley of the Temples winds between the hills and the sea, dotted here and there with almond trees, olive groves, vines and Mediterranean maquis from which the silhouettes of the temples in the distance are revealed with majestic grandeur.

A visit to the Valley of the Temples means to immerse yourself in a long walk among columns, capitals, but also majestic temples that have won the battle against time, remaining in some cases almost intact over the centuries. Its 1,300 hectares of extension guard eleven Doric temples dedicated to the main Greek gods, including Hera Lacinia, Athena, Concordia, Heracles, Zeus Olympius, Castor and Pollux, Demeter, Isis, Asclepius and Hephaestus.

Lovers of photography, but also those who want to admire one of the best-preserved examples of Hellenic temple, can not stop to immortalize the Temple of Concordia which, with its 17 meters high dominates the surrounding scene. The shot will be further enhanced by the statue of the “fallen Icarus”, by Polish artist Igor Mitoraj, which offers a contrast between ancient and modern art.

But the main plain is also the setting for three sanctuaries and a large concentration of more recent necropolises, dating back to early Christian times, which extend to the mouth of the river, where the port and the Emporion of the ancient city were located. The Valley of the Temples also houses the Regional Archaeological Museum “Pietro Griffo” in which are kept more than 5688 finds ordered according to a chronological criterion from prehistoric times until the end of the Greco-Roman age.