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Valley of the Temples

The Valley of the Temples, admirably managed by the “Parco Archeologico e Paesaggistico della Valle dei Templi”, since 1997 is one of the 41 Italian sites declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Here you will find seven Doric temples dating mainly to the fifth Century B.C. re aligned atop a magnificent cliff overlooking the sea.  The Temple of Concordia stands out from the others, considered the best preserved Greek temple outside of Greece. The Valley also features the colossal ruins of the Temple of Zeus, the third largest Greek temple in the world, and the Temple of Dioscuri, a traditional symbol of the city. Outside the imposing external walls, south of the Valley, the small temple of Aesculapius (Tempio di Esculapio) displays an original plan (pseudo double in antis). On the eastern slopes of rupe Atenea there is the medieval church of San Biagio, built on the foundation of the temple of Demeter (tempio di Demetra), and the underlying rock shrine dedicated to the same divinity surrounded by a grove of eucalyptus in a quiet setting with a view of the great panorama of the Valley, a place still steeped in myth and mystery.


 

In the western extremity of the Valley of the Temples, near the temple of Dioscuri, you will find the Kolymbetra Garden, once a huge and ancient water reserve system from the Greek era, recovered and now managed by  FAI, an organization who has made an oasis of shade and coolness, restoring the original plants and ancient crops of the zone. The Kolymbetra Garden is of enormous historic and environmental importance and is a place where nature and history merge into a single expression of Agrigento’s past and present beauty.

In a flat area, bound on the south by the Valley of the Temples, archaeological excavations begun in the 1950’s have uncovered a large tract of urban dwellings known as the Hellenistic-Roman Quarter.  The Hellenistic-Roman Quarter covers an area of about 15,000 sq.m., and is among the best preserved in Sicily. In addition to dwellings and structures, a partial road layout of the village has been uncovered.  The road consists of long axis “plateiai and stenopoi”, crossed squarely according to planning patterns dictated by Ippodamo da Mileto. The noble houses are arranged around a central peristyle and paved with elegant polychrome mosaics depicting geometric patterns, plant and animal drawings. These designs have determined the name of one of the homes, for instance, house of the gazelle.

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