Wonders of Antiquity – Valley of the Temples in Agrigento

Valley of the Temples in Agrigento

Valley of the Temples in Agrigento.
Millennia-old ancient temples stand proudly on a rocky promontory, showcasing the legacy of a splendid civilization from the past. This awe-inspiring spectacle is what the Valley of the Temples in Agrigento presents.
In Sicilia, there exists a place where the magnificence of ancient Magna Graecia is brought back to life through the awe-inspiring enthusiasm sparked by its beauty. This place is none other than the Valley of the Temples in Agrigento, a symbol of ancient Sicily and one of the prime tourist destinations on the island.

It’s a location with a timeless allure that rivals the fame and allure of Athens’ Acropolis. Its grand Doric temples, bathed in the blinding Sicilian summer sun or illuminated by spotlights at night, stand as an emblem of the island’s beauty and its captivating history.

For over two millennia, these temples have stood atop a hill’s crest, majestic and proud. While some lay in ruins, what remains is sufficient to grasp their original grandeur and evoke wonder and amazement.

Embark on a journey through history, treat yourself to a unique emotion: explore the Valley of the Temples, one of the world’s largest archaeological parks.

When to visit the Valley of the Temples in Agrigento

Quando andare alla Valle dei Templi di Agrigento The majority of tourists visit this unique attraction during the summer period as part of a seaside vacation, but is this really the best time to explore the Valley of the Temples in Agrigento?

Summer is a good time to combine culture and the sea, but the heat, especially during the central hours of the day, can be challenging to endure. Keep in mind that this is an outdoor attraction that doesn’t provide any shelter from the sun. This can be overcome by opting for an evening visit: if you’re interested, refer to the schedule of special evening openings.

The best months to visit the Valley of the Temples are February and March, the almond blossom period. It’s the off-peak tourism season, so you won’t encounter crowds, and flight and hotel prices are lower.

Another date to keep in mind for visiting the Valley of the Temples is the first Sunday of every month, a day when admission is free.

What to see in the Valley of the Temples

Valle dei Templi in Agrigento.
Within the archaeological park area of the Valley of the Temples in Agrigento, covering an expanse of around 1300 hectares, lie over ten temples, along with sanctuaries, necropolises, fortifications, remnants of dwellings, and other ruins.

These are the remains of the ancient city of Akgaras, representing the original core of the city of Agrigento – a prosperous city and one of the most significant in Magna Graecia.

Here are the not-to-be-missed attractions within the Valley of the Temples in Agrigento.

Temple of Concordia

The emblem of the Valley of the Temples is the magnificent Temple of Concordia, a nearly entirely preserved colossus that proudly stands as a testament to the grandeur of ancient Agrigento. This monumental temple stands over 13 meters tall and boasts 38 fluted columns that reach a height of 6.5 meters.

Built around 440 BC, it was used as a Christian church in the 6th century, a circumstance that contributed to its good state of preservation.

The Name of Discord
The name of the temple is a misnomer attributed to an error by the historian Fazello. Living between the 15th and 16th centuries, he found a Latin inscription near the temple mentioning the goddess Concordia, and that alone led him to give this name to the temple. Subsequent studies revealed that the inscription had no connection to the temple.

Temple of Hercules

One of the oldest temples in the archaeological park, the Temple of Hercules was undoubtedly a colossal monument in ancient times.

Today, unfortunately, we can only see nine columns, raised through a substantial donation by the Englishman Alexander Hardcastle. Nevertheless, they still present an impressive and evocative sight.

Temple of Zeus

A replica of one of the telamons from the Temple of Zeus
Even larger in the past, and even less remains today, is the monumental Temple of Zeus, which covered a rectangular area of 112×56 meters, with columns nearly 20 meters high.

Only a few fragments remain, but to grasp the monumentality of this temple, you can admire one of the telamons that adorned the temple in the Archaeological Museum. These enormous stone figures, 7 meters in height, were placed between the columns. A replica stands within the park, facing the temple’s remains.

Other Temples
The three we have recommended are the most famous and most photographed, but all the temples in Agrigento have their own history or a particular point of interest.

Other interesting temples include:

– Temple of Juno, situated in a panoramic position on a ridge.
– Temple of the Dioscuri (also known as the Temple of Castor and Pollux), much loved by tourists even though it is a reconstruction from the early 19th century, likely using pieces from other structures.
– Temple of Demeter, whose remains are preserved within the medieval church of San Biagio.
– Temple of Hephaestus: built on the remains of an even older temple at the edge of the hill. Very little remains, but the foundation’s shape is still distinguishable.

Hellenistic-Roman Quarter

Although there’s very little left, a stroll through the Hellenistic-Roman quarter of the Valley of the Temples will make you dream of going back in time.

In this area of the park, the imprints of ancient cities are evident, with the main streets divided into cardines and decumani. Remains of private residences (some modest, others more extravagant with mosaics), shops, wells, and baths can still be seen.

Archaeological Museum

Admission to the Archaeological Museum isn’t included in the Valley of the Temples ticket; a separate ticket or a combination ticket is needed. Spending the money is worthwhile to admire one of the most important archaeological museums in Italy, housing over 5000 artifacts that tell the story of Akragas and the ancient world in general.

The collection includes works and objects found within the park, pieces from private collections, and some items loaned from other museums. The standout pieces of the collection are the statue of Ephebe and the telamon from the Temple of Jupiter.

Tickets and Practical Information for Visiting the Valley of the Temples

The Archaeological Park of the Valley of the Temples is divided into two sections, one to the east and one to the west of the Temple Road: the temples in the eastern zone are the most impressive. It’s easy to move from the eastern hill to the lower part through an elevated path.

To explore the Valley of the Temples, you can enter from two entrances: one is along the Temple Panoramic Road, near the Temple of Juno, while the other is in Contrada Sant’Anna, close to Porta V.

Tickets can be purchased online or directly at the archaeological park’s ticket counters. Opening hours vary depending on the seasons; during summer, extraordinary evening openings are also organized.

You can buy a ticket solely to visit the temples or choose combined tickets that include entrance to the archaeological museum or the Kolymbethra garden.

Entrance is free for individuals under 18 years of age, for Italian school teachers, and for other professional categories. Additionally, there’s a 50% discount for individuals aged 18 to 25.


How to Reach the Valley of the Temples in Agrigento

The Valley of the Temples is situated just 5 km from the heart of Agrigento and can be reached using local buses or by walking. Access by car is very straightforward: simply follow the directions from the Juno roundabout.

To reach Agrigento, the recommended option is to take a flight to the airports in Palermo, Trapani, or Catania, and then rent a car from there. The distances between Agrigento and the three airports are slightly different, so you can choose the airport that offers the most convenient flights. Expect a travel time of approximately two and a half hours to reach Agrigento from one of the three recommended airports.

Additionally, Agrigento is also connected by direct buses from Palermo, Trapani, and Catania. However, the train is not the optimal choice as it often involves multiple changes.

Where to sleep in the Valley of the Temples

There are a couple of hotels and B&Bs in the immediate vicinity of the Valley of the Temples, including a luxurious 5-star hotel with a pool that boasts an enviable view of the temples.

However, we recommend staying in the center of Agrigento because there is a wider range of accommodations available, including budget-friendly options with a good quality/price ratio; furthermore, staying in the center has the advantage that you won’t need to travel to have dinner or enjoy yourself in the evening.

Italian version

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Last updated on: 09/08/2023 10:12:33