Visit the Valley of the Temples
Visit the Valley of Temples with Deep in Sicily Tours and Excursions
Agrigento, whose Greek name was Akragas, was founded in the years 582-580 BC by Greek colonists from Gela.
The city is also known as the ”City of the Temples”: all of them are in Doric style and located in the archaeological site of the so-called ”Valley of the Temples”. Since 1997 this area is also included in the UNESCO Heritage Site list.
For those interested in visiting the city of Agrigento, the historical center of the city offers many artistic testimonies, such as religious architecture, churches, abbeys and monasteries.
The most important ones: Abbey ”Santo Spirito”, the Cathedral, and the church St. Maria of Greeks.
Agrigento is the birthplace of Luigi Pirandello, drammaturge, poet and Italian writer.
To understand the life and importance of Pirandello for this city you can visit his native house as well as the Theater and Library named after him.
The great fame of Agrigento is essentially its proximity to the Valley, a testimony of Magna Greece in Sicily.
The archaeological park and landscape of the Valley of the Temples is the largest archaeological site in the world with its 1,300 hectares.
The Valley of the Temples is characterized by the remains of 10 Doric temples, shrines, a variety of necropolis (“Montelusa, Mosè, Pezzino, Roman Necropolis and Terone’s Tomb, Paleocristiana, Acrosoli); hydraulic projects (the garden of Kolymbetra and Ipogei); fortifications; a part of one greek district; two important places as ”Agora”; a Olympeion and a Bouleuteion (boardroom) of Roman period made on greek plan.
The most important temple is the Temple of Concordia; it is ranked amongst the most notable buildings of the Greek civilization existing today.
Notably, the UNESCO symbol alludes to this six-column-facade temple. It has a peristasis of 6 x 13 columns built over a basement of 39.44 x 16.91 m; each Doric column has twenty grooves and a slight entasis, and is surmounted by an architrave with triglyphs and metopes; perfectly preserved are also the tympani.
The temple’s transformation into a Christian church involved the removal of the ancient ornamentation, the demolition of the naos’ back wall, the closure of the space between the columns, and the creation of twelve curved openings in the walls of the naos in order to create the canonical three naves – two lateral ones and a central one.
The classical altar was destroyed and sacristies were arranged in the corners; this resulted in the whole building taking almost completely the form of a basilica.
Also, graves were dug both in the inside and the outside areas of the church, in accordance with the High Medieval custom which wanted the sepulcher in the proximity of the basilica.
This temple, built like the nearby Temple of Juno on a solid base designed to overcome the unevenness of the rocky terrain, is considered one of the most notable examples of Ancient Greek architecture on account of its state of preservation.
For those who want to visit one of Sicily’s most outstanding beaches, just a few kilometers away from Agrigento and the Valley of The temples there is the “Scala dei Turchi”.
The Scala is formed by marl, a sedimentary rock with a characteristic white color.
It lies between two sandy beaches, and it can be accessed through a limestone rock formation in the shape of a staircase, hence the name.
The latter part of the name derives from the frequent raids carried on by Moors.
In August 2007, the municipality of Realmonte applied for the inclusion of the Scala dei Turchi (together with the nearby Roman Villa Aurea) in the UNESCO Heritage List.
Agrigento and the Valley of the temples are at around 250 km distance from Taormina. If you would like visiting Agrigento and the Valley of the Temples you can read here.