Valley of the Temples

Tour Guides

The Valley of the Temples: The archaeological area known as the Valley of the Temples in Agrigento, Sicily, is one of the most important archeological sites in the world and a Unesco world heritage site since 1998. Along a long rocky scarp, chosen as the southern limit of the town, are still sited the great temples of ancient Akragas: Hera (Juno) Lacinia, Concordia, Heracles (Hercules), Olympian Zeus (Jupiter), Castor and Pollux (Dioscuri) and Hephaistos (Vulcan). Further down, on the bank of the Akragas river, near a medical spring, stood the Temple dedicated to Asklepius (Eusculapius), the god of medicine. At the mouth of the river there was the harbour and emporion (trading-post) of the ancient city. Ancient Akragas , in its hey-day, was a flourishing cultural centre: it gave the world Empedocles, the pre-socratic philosopher, whose concept of matter as divided into four elements- Earth, Air, Fire and Water- was the foundation of science for many centuries to come. The city attracted poets like Simonides and Pyndar who described it as "the most beautiful of mortal cities". In Roman times, Agrigento was visited by Cicero in search of evidence of pro-consul Verres' abuse of power and later described by Virgil in the Eneid. From the Middle Ages up to modern times, its remains, landscapes, flora, colours and the echo of lost civilizations have inspired poets, writers and painters: Ludovico Ariosto, Wolfgang Goethe, Guy de Maupassant, Alexander Dumas, Anatole France, Murilo Mendes, Lawrence Durrell, E.M.Forster, Francesco Lojacono, Nicolas de Stael, Salvatore Quasimodo, Luigi Pirandello.

Sicily Web: Stretched out along a ridge, inappropriately referred to as "valley", and nestling in the area to the south of it, are a series of temples which were all erected in the course of a century (5C BC), as if to testify to the prosperity of the city at that time. Having been set ablaze by the Carthaginians in 406 BC, the buildings were restored by the Romans (1C BC) respecting their original Doric style. Their subsequent state of disrepair has been put down either to seismic activity or the destructive fury of the Christians backed by an edict of the Emperor of the Eastern Empire, Theodosius (4C). The only one to survive intact is the Temple of Concord which, in the 6C, was converted into a Christian church. During the Middle Ages, masonry was removed to help construct other buildings, in particular, the Temple of Zeus, known locally as the Giant's Quarry, provided material for the church of San Nicola and the 18C part of the jetty at Porto Empedocle. All the buildings face east, respecting the Classical criterion (both Greek and Roman) that the entrance to the cella (Holy of Holies) where the statue of the god was housed could be illuminated by the rays of the rising sun, the source and blood of life. On the whole, the temples are Doric and conform to the hexastyle format (that is with six columns at the front), the exception being the Temple of Zeus, which had seven engaged columns articulating the wall that encloses the building. Built of limestone tufa, the temples provide a particularly impressive sight at dawn, and even more so at sunset when they are turned a warm shade of gold.

Italiansrus: The Valley of the Temples is one of the most important archeological sites in the world and in 1997 it was named a UNESCO World heritage site. The temples are located in Agrigento, which is in the region of Sicily. The city was initially founded as a Greek colony in the 6th century BC and it quickly became a major cultural center. The doric style temples in the valley were all constructed within a century. Each of the temples face east, which was a standard criteria for both Greek and Roman temples. This was done so that the statue of the god housed in each temple would be illuminated by the rising sun. One can only imagine how beautiful this area was when it was a thriving city and the temples were almost all complete. I am sure it would have been a site to behold. If you are in Sicily and happen to be in the vicinity of Agrigento make sure to take some time and visit this amazing site. It is best viewed during the morning when the sun rises and illuminates the area.

Inside Sicily: The city of Agrigento boasts the impressive 'Valley of the Temples' and is an essential port of call for anyone fascinated by classical ruins. The 'most beautiful city of the mortals' is spread over over 450 hectares and was at its most splendid following the defeat of the Carthaginians at the battle of Hymera in 480 BC. The Temple of Concordia is the best surviving relic from that period and is stunningly preserved, rivalling anything in modern Greece. Today, the 14 or so temples and sanctuaries which dominate the old site offer an stunning record of what was a prosperous classical city. Since its foundation in 581 BC by citizens from Gela, Crete and Rhodes, modern day Agrigento has had a number of incarnations. The Greeks called it Akragas, followed by the Romans who Latinized it to Agrigentum. During the brief period of Arab rule, it was called Kerként after which Girgenti was the common name. It was only in 1927 when it resumed its Italian name of Agrigento. The Valley of the Temples was recently in the news when the local authorities decided to pull down many illegally constructed houses and buildings near the perimeter. Despite some vociferous protests the bulldozers came in and cleared the area.

Michele Gallo Tour: A half-day walking tour of the Valley of the Temples, a Unesco World Heritage site. Covers the Temple of Hera, the Temple of Concordia, the Temple of Herakles and the Temple of Zeus and the Sanctuary of Chtonian Deities. See some of the best preserved Greek temples in the world and discover the secrets behind their construction.

Indettaglio: The Valley of the Temples is still today the most sublime evidence of the Greek civilization in Sicily. In a countryside of blooming almond trees, your eyes enjoy the wonderful ruins of the temples which even after centuries still keep their architectural grandeur intact. The Valley of the Temple rises southernmost, on the traces of the old towan and it includes many temples built in the 5th century BC. They were erected with local tufa in Doric style and oriented towards east: at dawn the statue of the god, placed inside the entrance cell, was fully illuminated. The Valley is now an archaeological park over a large area where there are, almost in a line, some temples named after the Greek gods.

Agrigento Travel Guide: Valley of the Temples is the most renowned attraction in Agrigento, a large archeological site containing the remains of various Doric temples dating from the 5th century B.C. Hours are from 9:00 a.m. to sunset. A fee is required to enter. The Temple of Concordia, erected around 430 B.C., is the best-preserved among the Doric temples of the Greek world, and one of the most beautiful in proportion and harmony of form. It is a four-sided structure measuring 20 by 42 meters. The elegant and airy colonnade, following the classic model, has 6 by 13 columns, each of a height of 6.75 meters. The temple underwent major transformation and adaptations after the 6th century A.D., when Bishop Gregory transferred the seat of the cathedral to Agrigento. Because of this, the temple was saved from the destruction wrought upon the other temples at the hands of Christian fanaticism. North of the temple extends the Paleochristian Byzantine Necropolis, a vast complex of open-air tombs.

Valley of the Temples: In the area to the extreme South of Agrigento, stretched out on a ridge, known as 'Valle', one finds the Valle dei Templi, the origins of which date back to the 5th century BC. The Valle consists of a series of temples which were built to symbolize the prosperity of the city. The only temple to remain intact is the Tempio della Concordia. All of the temples face East, according to Classical criteria, in both Greek and Roman times, and are all built in the Doric and Estastil style, with the exception of the temple dedicated to Zeus. The buildings which make up Valle dei Templi are : the sacrificial alter, the Temple of Zeus Olimpio, the Temple of Castore and Polluce or of the Dioscuri (symbol of Agrigento), the Temple of Efesto, the Temple of Eracle (Ercole), the Paleochristian Necropoli, the Temple of the Concordia (the best conserved), the Antiquarium of paleochristian Agrigento, the Iconographic Antiquarium of the Collina dei Templi, the Temple of Hera Lacinia (Giunone), the Tomb of Terone and the Temple of Asciepio (Esculapio).

Holiday Company Descriptions

Riviera Travel: Today we visit the spectacular Greek remains in the ‘Valley of the Temples', situated largely on a ridge looking out to sea. We enjoy a guided tour of the site and a visit to the excellent museum, displaying finds from both the temples and surrounding area. We also visit Agrigento itself, awash with medieval atmosphere, swimming in tiny stepped streets and quiet shady piazzas overlooking the blue Mediterranean in the distance .

Travel Sicilia: In Eraclèa we'll be fascinated by the small teather almost entirely built with loam rock in a fantastic location, facing the sea shores, like almost all the theatres in Sicily. Free lunch, before continuing our trip towards Agrigento. In Agrigento, described by the Greek poet Pindarus in 490 B.C. as "the most beautiful town of humans… friend of luxury…dear to Persephones…", we'll visit the mythical Valley of the Temples, that brings us back to the glorious past of this town, the museum, and the work in progress at the ancient garden of Kolymbetra, one of the assets preserved by FAI (Fondo Ambiente Italiano).

Academic Tours: After breakfast visit the Archaeological Museum and the famous Valley of the Temples. Lunch at the hotelZ. Then proceed to Piazza Armerina and visit the famed Villa Romana del Casale with its 3,500 square meters of mosaics. Continue to Caltagirone, the Baroque town well known for its ceramics. Dinner and overnight at your hotel in San Michele di Ganzaria, a typical agricultural village.

Historic and Cultural Tour of Sicily: This morning, we'll head southward across rural Sicily to Agrigento's timeless Greek temples. Noon at leisure for dining. Then we'll depart for Villa Gussio, a rural estate in Leonforte near Enna, to experience the rural Sicily of myth and folklore. Dinner and overnight at Villa Gussio.

Holiday Accommodation

Hotel Costazzurra: At the Hotel Costazzurra you will discover how to enjoy the magic atmosphere of the Valley of the Temples in an elegant and discreet environment tailor made to meet your needs. Our 3 star hotel is new and modern and our sense of hospitality is accurate to the smallest detail. In our family run restaurant you will be able to taste the specialities of our wide ‘a la carte' menu rich in typical dishes that you can enjoy also in a full board stay. The hotel is situated in San Leone, the seaside resort of Agrigento, it is easy to reach in a central and quiet area. It is only 3 kilometres away from the marvellous Valley of the Temples, 350 metres from beautiful sandy beaches and from the ‘lungomare' the main street by the sea. The hotel has 32 rooms, bar, restaurant, controlled parking, 5 direct telephone lines, internet point, beach resort facilities, bicycles, telefax service, laundry service and luggage deposit. A new spa whirlpool and relax area at your exclusive disposition on reservation for a session.

Hotel Del Viale: The hotel place to the center of Agrigento a few meters from the Way Atenea, city drawing-room. It has a position of privilege on the Tree- lined avenue of the Victoria, from where the visitor can admire the majesty of the temples, famous all over the world and patrimony of the humanity Goes. The hotel offers all comfort for a relaxant stay to contact with the heart of the city. The rooms furnished with a good taste, are equipped with TV, conditioned air, telephone, safe and bath in room.

Kempinski Giardino di Costanza: In the heart of Sicilian countryside, the Resort offers the ideal balance between ancient and modern, simplicity and extravagance. The Kempinski Giardino di Costanza recalls the traditional architecture of the area within the natural element of the surrounding olive groves and vineyards. It is placed amidst extensive park grounds with centenary trees and vibrant flora. With the Mediterranean Sea at the back door, offering water sports, charter fishing trips and rejuvenation through its crystal-clear waters, there is a constant source of fresh seafood for the splendid restaurant of our Resort. From terraces or balconies of our Grand Superior or Superior rooms, one can enjoy the view of the lush inner garden with its water features, citrus and olive tree groves. The balconies of our Deluxe rooms are open to tranquillity and breathtaking countryside.

Bed & Breakfast Lerux is situated in a luminous and confortable apartment five minutes walking distance from the city centre and two kilometres from the Valley of the Temples.The house is confortably and functionally equipped with a living-room (complete with stereo and TV), four bedrooms (capable of accomodating eight total), a new bathroom with shower, all with confortable furniture and stylish decor. Breakfast is served in a spacious kitchen.

Villa Eros: The Villa Eos Hotel overlooks the Mediterranean Sea and is situated just in front of the birthplace of the Italian writer Luigi Pirandello. Surrounded by marquis flowers and beautiful gardens the hotel also has a large parking area exclusively for hotel guests.

Kolymbetra: In the really center of Agrigento, near the monuments and the "Valle di Templi", just few steps from the Jupiter (Zeus) temple. On the first floor of a nice small building. We have 5 bedrooms and a comfortable breakfast room.