The Valley of the Temples (Valle dei Templi), together with the acropolises and a number of sanctuaries outside the historic center of Agrigento, makes up the Parco Archeologico e Paesaggistico della valle dei Templi di Agrigento since the year 2000. This is in its entirety on the World Heritage List of UNESCO.
Valley of the Temples Agrigento
Address, opening hours and entrance fee
Address: Via Panoramica dei Templi 92100 – Agrigento (tel. +39 0922621657). Official website: www.parcovalledeitempli.it. Opening hours: From 08.30 to 19.00. Entrance fee: 10 Euro (discount: 5 Euro). Combi-ticket with Archaeological Museum: 13,50 Euro (discount: 7 Euro). From mid-July to mid-August the valley is open in the evenings from 19:00 to 22:00 on weekdays and from 19:00 to 23:00 on Saturdays and Sundays. On the first Sunday of the month, the monument is accessible free of charge.
History and description
The area where the ancient city was located occupies about 1800 hectares. It consists of the Collina di Girgenti, which is located south of the modern city, and the Collina dei Templi. The city consisted of a number of main streets that ran from east to west, crossed by narrower side streets.
The city walls follow the hilltops, including the Rupe Atenea, followed by the course of the San Biagio River, which at the time was called called Akragas. After this, they veer off, first in western direction, and then along the San Leone River (then called the Hypsas) to the north. Finally, at the Empedocle Valley, they meet at the walls of the Rupe Atenea.
The monuments in the valley date largely from the 5th century BC, when Agrigento was at its most powerful. The Doric temples are all made of the local yellow tuff. Traces of a white material would seem to that they were whitewashed with a layer of powdered marble.
The most famous temples are the Tempio della Concordia and the Tempio di Giove Olimpico.
What to see
The Tempio di Giunone Lacinia is located at the highest point of the hill, close to the Tempio della Concordia.
Of the Tempio di Ercole, eight columns, four with capitals, were resurrected in 1924. A final, broken column is probably the only one never to have collapsed. Because of some features, including the elongated floor plan, it is believed to be the oldest of the temples in the valley.
The Tempio di Giove Olimpico is built on a high square podium. It is characterized by blind doors and Doric columns with Ionic capitals. The Doric entablature consists of smooth metopes and triglyphs.
The four surviving columns of the Tempio dei Dioscuri are pretty much the symbol of Agrigento. Built in the 5th century BC, this temple was badly damaged when the Carthaginians plundered the city (406 BC).
The few remaining ruins of the Temple of Aesculapis stand on the right bank of the Akragas River, near the Tomb of Terone. Built in the 5th century BC, this temple is smaller than the other temples in Agrigento and also different in shape. What is also unusual is that it is positioned outside the city walls.
The Tempio Di Vulcano (Contrada San Marco, 10) is so named because a Latin writer placed a Collis Vulcanius in the area. It is a Doric temple from the 5th century BC. Inside the cella is a smaller sanctuary. Between 1928 and 1929, the houses built against the temple were removed.
Other attractions in the valley include the Tomba di Terone, the Santuario di Demetra e Kore, and a number of altars and temples on the north side of the area.