The Valley of Temples is an archaeological site which dates back to the ancient Greek period.
It is settled near Agrigento, in Sicily – southern Italy. In reality, the term ‘valley’ is a misnomer because the site is situated on a ridge outside Agrigento. The excavation and the restoration of the temples have been done due to the efforts of Domenico Antonio Lo Faso Pietrasanta (1783-1863), an archaelogist who was the Duke of Serradifalco from 1809 through 1812.
This enchanting place is considered one of the most important source of tourism for Sicily and since 1997 the Valley of Temple is in the UNESCO Heritage Site list.
The Valley comprises ruins of seven temples, all in Doric style:
The Temple of Juno
and the Temple of Concordia
were built in the 5th century BC. The first one was used to celebrate weddings but it was burnt in 406 BC by the Carthaginians.
The second one was turned into a church in the 6th century AD and it is now one of the best preserved in the Valley. The Temple of Heracles
is the most ancient in the Valley and it was destroyed by an earthquake.
Unfortunately it consists today of only eight columns likewise the one of Castor and Pollux
which includes only four columns. Even so, it is now the symbol of modern Agrigento. Also the Temple of Vulcan
is now one of the most damaged by the years and natural phenomena. Usually it is thought to have been one of the most impressive buildings in the valley.
The Temple of Zeus Olympic
was built in 480 BC to celebrate the city-state's victory over Carthage and finally, the Temple of Asclepius
was the destination of wayfarers looking for healing from illness.
The Valley also includs the so called Tomb of Theron
, a large tuff pyramid which was built to celebrate the Roman victims in the Second Punic war.
All the temples turn towards east - a standard criteria for both Greek and Roman temples - so that the statue of the god would be illuminated by the rising sun. We can only imagine how beautiful this valley was when it lived and the temples were all intact.
If you are in Sicily and happen to be close to Agrigento make sure to take some time to visit this charming site.