Sicily

Day 2 - Valley of the Temples


On a ridge overlooking the Mediterranean, only eight of the original temples survive. We visited four of them.


Akragas represents the height of Greek civilisation in Sicily. Over 21 temples were built between 510-430BC, along a ridge above the coast. Each was dedicated to a different god or goddess.

The site is split into eastern and western areas, separated by a road. The best preserved temples are in the eastern section. There are two entrances and most people begin at the ticket office for the eastern zone where the main car park is. The temples are connected by an unpaved road and there is a shuttle bus service for those not wanting to walk.

The TEMPLE OF JUNO is the most easterly temple and is built on a large stone platform on the ridge above the road, reached by a flight of stone steps.
Valley of the Temples, Sicily

The temple dates from around 450BC but was burnt by the Carthaginians in 406BC and traces of red discolouration from the fire can be seen on the stones. The temple was restored in the C18th when 30 of the columns were re-erected. 

Valley of the Temples, Sicily

In front of the temple is the remains of the altar used for animal sacrifices.

Valley of the Temples, Sicily

Next is the TEMPLE OF CONCORDIA which is the best preserved Doric temples in the world. This was also built about 430BC and has survived as it was used as a Christian Basilica from the C6th until the mid C18th when it was restored to its original form. Set on a stone platform it has its 36 outer columns surrounding the inner shrine area.

Valley of the Temples, Sicily

Valley of the Temples, Sicily

The TEMPLE OF HERCULES is the oldest temple being built around 500BC. It was destroyed by the Carthaginians but rebuilt by the Romans. It was later destroyed by an earthquake. Eight columns were re-erected in 1924 by Alexander Hardcastle. 

Valley of the Temples, Sicily

In the western zone, the TEMPLE OF ZEUS would have been one of the largest temples in Greek Antiquity. Construction began in 480BC to commemorate a victory over the Carthaginians, but it was never completed. It was destroyed by an earthquake in the C15th and in the C18th it was used as a source of building stone for the port at Porto Empedocle. It is now a rubble of stones.

Valley of the Temples, Sicily

Along the outer wall between the columns were very tall statues referred to as Telamone which helped support the weight of the temple. The remains of these can be seen partially reassembled inside the temple.

Valley of the Temples, Sicily

In front of the temple are the blocks which would have supported the sacrificial altar.

Valley of the Temples, Sicily

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