Valle dei Templi

The Valle dei Templi (Italian pronunciation: [ˈvalle dei ˈtɛmpli]; English: Valley of the Temples; Sicilian: Vaddi di li Tempri) is an archaeological site in Agrigento (ancient Greek Akragas), Sicily. It is one of the most outstanding examples of Greater Greece art and architecture, and is one of the main attractions of Sicily as well as a national monument of Italy. The area was included in the UNESCO World Heritage Site list in 1997. Much of the excavation and restoration of the temples was due to the efforts of archaeologist Domenico Antonio Lo Faso Pietrasanta (1783–1863), who was the Duke of Serradifalco from 1809 through 1812. The Archaeological and Landscape Park of the Valley of the Temples is the largest archaeological site in the world with 1,300 hectares.[1]

The term "valley" is a misnomer, the site being located on a ridge outside the town of Agrigento.

Archaeological Area of Agrigento
UNESCO World Heritage Site
Agrigento-Tempio della Concordia01
LocationAgrigento, Province of Agrigento, Sicily, Italy
CriteriaCultural: (i)(ii)(iii)(iv)
Inscription1997 (21st Session)
Area934 ha (2,310 acres)
Buffer zone1,869 ha (4,620 acres)
Coordinates37°17′23″N 13°35′36″E / 37.28972°N 13.59333°ECoordinates: 37°17′23″N 13°35′36″E / 37.28972°N 13.59333°E
Valle dei Templi is located in Sicily
Valle dei Templi
Location of Valle dei Templi in Sicily
Valle dei Templi is located in Italy
Valle dei Templi
Valle dei Templi (Italy)
Akragas 406 a.C.
Akragas 406 a. Chr. n.


Parco Archaeologico e Paesaggistico della Valle dei Templi

The Valley includes remains of seven temples, all in Doric style. The ascription of the names, apart from that of the Olympeion, are a mere tradition established in Renaissance times. The temples are:

  • Temple of Concordia, whose name comes from a Latin inscription found nearby, and which was built in the 5th century BC. Turned into a church in the 6th century AD, it is now one of the best preserved in the Valley.
  • Temple of Juno, also built in the 5th century BC. It was burnt in 406 BC by the Carthaginians.
  • Temple of Heracles, who was one of the most venerated deities in the ancient Akragas. It is the most ancient in the Valley: destroyed by an earthquake, it consists today of only eight columns.
  • Temple of Olympian Zeus, built in 480 BC to celebrate the city-state's victory over Carthage. It is characterized by the use of large scale atlases.
  • Temple of Castor and Pollux. Despite its remains including only four columns, it is now the symbol of modern Agrigento.
  • Temple of Vulcan, also dating from the 5th century BC. It is thought to have been one of the most imposing constructions in the valley; it is now however one of the most eroded.
  • Temple of Asclepius, located far from the ancient town's walls; it was the goal of pilgrims seeking cures for illness.

The Valley is also home to the so-called Tomb of Theron, a large tuff monument of pyramidal shape; scholars suppose it was built to commemorate the Romans killed in the Second Punic War.

Temple of Concordia

Medusa statue on the back of Icaros next to
Medusa's statue on the back of Icarus's wing next to Temple of Concordia
Plan of the temple of Concordia.

Due to its good state of preservation, the Temple of Concordia is ranked amongst the most notable edifices of the Greek civilization existing today. Notably the UNESCO symbol alludes to this temple's 6 column facade. It has a peristatis of 6 x 13 columns built over a basement of 39.44 x 16.91 m; each Doric column has twenty grooves and a slight entasis, and is surmounted by an architrave with triglyphs and metopes; also perfectly preserved are the tympani. The cella, preceded by a pronaos, is accessed by a single step; also existing are the pylons with the stairs which allowed to reach the roof and, over the cella's walls and in the blocks of the peristasis entablature, the holes for the wooden beam of the ceiling. The exterior and the interior of the temple were covered by polychrome stucco. The upper frame had gutters with lion-like protomes, while the roof was covered by marble tiles.

When the temple was turned into a church the entrance was moved to the rear, and the rear wall of the cella was destroyed. The spaces between the columns were closed, while 12 arched openings were created in the cella, in order to obtain a structure with one nave and two aisles. The pagan altar was destroyed and sacristies were carved out in the eastern corners. The sepultures visible inside and outside the temple date to the High Middle Age.

Temple of Juno Lacinia

Agrigent BW 2012-10-07 12-24-45
Temple of Juno.

This temple was constructed on a mostly artificial spur. It dates to c. 450 BC, measuring 38.15 x 16.90 m: it is in Doric style, peripteros 6 columns wide by 13 long, preceded by a pronaos and opisthodomos. The basement has four steps.

Current remains (including anastylosis from the 18th Century onwards) consist of the front colonnade with parts of the architrave and of the frieze. Only fragments of the other three sides survive, with few elements of the cella. The building was damaged in the fire of 406 BC and restored in Roman times, with the substitution of marble tiles with ones of clay, and the addition of a steep rise in the area where today can be seen the remains of the altar.

Nearby are arcosolia and other sepultures from Byzantine times, belonging to the late 6th century AD renovation of the Temple of Concordia into a Christian church.

Temple of Asclepius

The temple of Asclepius is located in the middle of the San Gregorio plain. Its identification is based on a mention by Polybius (I, 18, 2), who states that the temple was "in front of the city", one mile away. However, as the actual distance does not correspond and the size of the building is relatively small, scholars remains dubious about this attribution.

The small temple, probably dating to the late 5th century BC and measuring 21.7 x 10.7 m, rises over a basement with three steps. Its peculiarity is the fake opysthodomus with two semi-columns in the external side of the rear cella. Also extant are parts of the entablature, with lion-like protomes, a frieze and a geison pediment.

The sanctuary housed a bronze statue of Apollo by Myron, a gift to the city by Scipio, which was stolen by Verres.[2]

Temple of Heracles

Remains of the Temple of Heracles.

The traditional name of this temple comes from another mention by Cicero[3] about a temple dedicated to the classical hero "not far from the forum"; however, it has never been proven the latter (the agora of the Greek city) was located in this point.

Stylistically, the temple belongs to the last years of the 6th century BC. It has been also suggested that this temple was one of the first built under Theron. Also the entablature, of which parts have been found, would date it to the 470-460s or the middle 5th century BC (though the more recent remains could be a replacement of the older ones). One hypothesis is that the temple was begun before the Battle of Himera, to be completed only in the following decades. Polyaenus mentions a temple of Athena being built under Theron outside the city, which could be identified with that of "Hercules", though also with a new one in the inner acropolis.

The building, with 20th-century anastylosis, measures 67 x 25.34 m, with a peristais of 6 x 15  Doric columns and a cella with pronaos and opysthodomus, is located over a three-step basement. It is the first example (later become common in the Agrigento temples) of pylons inserted between the pronaos and cella, housing the stair which allowed inspections of the roof. The columns are rather high and have wide capitals. On the eastern side are remains of the large altar.

Olympeion field

Agrigento Telamon
Remains of one atlas in the Olympeion field.

On the other side of the road running through the Golden Gate of the ancient city, is a plain commanded by the huge Olympeion field. This includes a platea with a large temple to Olympian Zeus, plus other areas still under investigation. These include a sanctuary, with remains of a paved square, a complex sacellum ("holy enclosure") and a tholos. This, after another gate, is followed by a sanctuary of chthonic deities, an archaic sanctuary, the so-called colimbetra (where was a still unknown gate) and the tip of the spur where the sanctuary is located, with the temple of Vulcan.

The Olympeion complex's main attraction is the huge temple of Olympian Zeus, which was described with enthusiastic words by Diodorus Siculus and mentioned by Polybius.[4] Today it is reduced to ruins due to destruction begun in antiquity and continued through the 18th century, when the temple was used as a quarry for the port of Porto Empedocle.

Near the south-western corner of the temples is a small edifice (12,45 x 5,90 m) with two naves and a deep pronaos, a double entrance and what has been identified as an altar. Its dating is controversial, though scholars have assigned it to the archaic era, due to the discovery of numerous 6th century BC vases. Also archaic is another sacellum, which later was replaced by a classical edifice. These are followed by the scant remains of a temple (called "Tempio L") dating to the mid-5th century BC, measuring 41.8 x 20.20 meters, to which, in the 3rd century BC, a Hellenistic entablature was added.

Panorama Remains of one original atlas in the Olympeion field
Panorama Remains of one original atlas in the Olympeion field
Panorama Remains of one reconstructed atlas in the Olympeion field
Panorama Remains of one reconstructed atlas in the Olympeion field

Temple of the Dioscuri

Temple of the Dioscuri - Valle dei Templi - Agrigento - Italy 2015 (6)
The re-assembled remains of the Temples of "Castor and Pollux".

North of Temple L is the "Temple of the Dioscuri," Castor and Pollux, the northwest corner of which is in a misleading modern reconstruction from the early 19th century, created using pieces from various other temples. It includes four columns and an entablature. The temple itself measures 31 m × 13.39 m (101.7 ft × 43.9 ft), and would likely have been a Doric peripteral with 6 x 13 columns, dating to about the mid-5th c. BC.

Temple of Hephaestus

On the other side of the valley is the last spur of the hill, commanded by the remains of the Temple of Hephaestus (also called the Temple of Vulcan), although the exact deity to whom it is dedicated is unknown. It is a Doric-style peripteral building measuring 43 m × 20.85 m (141.1 ft × 68.4 ft), mounted on a four-step crepidoma and having 6 x 13 columns; it dates to around 430 BC. It was built over an archaic sacellumm which measures 13.25 m × 6.50 m (43.5 ft × 21.3 ft). Its decoration, dating to ca. 560-550 BC, has been recently reconstructed.[5]

Other remains

On the western side of the city are the remains of Gates VI and VII, the first probably lying on the road to Heracles, the second having two towers and two external bastions (one having 15-metre thick walls); northwards are the remains of Gates VIII and IX, now surrounded by illegal buildings.

At the western tip of the area in which the Temple of Concordia lies, are parts of a late-ancient or early-medieval necropolis, constructed on existing cisterns. Other tombs and catacombs are visible in the so-called Grotte Fragapane, dating to the 4th century AD.

These late-Roman and Byzantine necropolises lie in an area used for tombs since ancient times. One of these, the so-called Tomb of Theron, is a naiskos sepulchre with square plan. Gate IV is located near the tomb of Theron: probably one of the most important in the city, as it led to the sea.

West of the Olympeion, are remains of two insulae (residences) 38 m wide, connected by a square to the ancient Gate V. It is likely that they were built re-using structures belonging to the sacred area of the Olympeion. Nearby is a sanctuary with an L-shaped portico from the early 5th century BC, which is annexed to Gate V. In the area are also two archaic (mid-6th century BC) temples.

On the northern side of Gate V is a large stone square leading to the "Sanctuary of the Chthonic Gods".

The so-called "Oratory of Phalaris" is in fact a Roman temple, measuring 12.40 x 8.85 m.

In Agrigento Valley of the Temples

Temple of Zeus

Valle dei Templi (9530809266)
Valle dei Templi (9528024959)

Temple of Juno

Agrigento Ekklesiaterion

Greek Bouleuterion

See also


  1. ^ "Parco Valle dei Templi". May 30, 2014.
  2. ^ Cicero, Verrinae, II 4, 93.
  3. ^ Cicero, Verrinae, II 4,94
  4. ^ IX 27,9.
  5. ^ "Parco Valle dei Templi". Parco Archeologico Valle dei Templi di Agrigento. Retrieved 2 March 2018.

External links


Agrigento (Italian: [aɡriˈdʒɛnto] (listen); Sicilian: Girgenti [dʒɪɾˈdʒɛndɪ] or Giurgenti [dʒʊɾˈdʒɛndɪ]; Ancient Greek: Ἀκράγας, romanized: Akragas;

Latin: Agrigentum or Acragas; Arabic: Kirkent or Jirjent) is a city on the southern coast of Sicily, Italy and capital of the province of Agrigento. It was one of the leading cities of Magna Graecia during the golden age of Ancient Greece with population estimates in the range of 200,000 to 800,000 before 406 BC.

Agrigento Cathedral

Agrigento Cathedral (Italian: Duomo di Agrigento, Cattedrale Metropolitana di San Gerlando) is a Roman Catholic cathedral in Agrigento, Sicily, dedicated to Saint Gerland.

Founded in the 11th century, it was consecrated in 1099 as the seat of the restored bishop of Agrigento. The diocese was elevated to an archdiocese in 2000, and the cathedral is thus now the seat of the Archbishop of Agrigento.

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Atlas (architecture)

In European architectural sculpture, an atlas (also known as an atlant, or atlante or atlantid; plural atlantes) is a support sculpted in the form of a man, which may take the place of a column, a pier or a pilaster. The Roman term for such a sculptural support is a telamon (plural telamones or telamons).The term atlantes is the Greek plural of the name Atlas—the Titan who was forced to hold the sky on his shoulders for eternity. The alternative term, telamones, also is derived from a later mythological hero, Telamon, one of the Argonauts, who was the father of Ajax.

The caryatid is the female precursor of this architectural form in Greece, a woman standing in the place of each column or pillar. Caryatids are found at the treasuries at Delphi and the Erechtheion on the Acropolis at Athens for Athene. They usually are in an Ionic context and represented a ritual association with the goddesses worshiped within. The Atalante is typically life-size or larger; smaller similar figures in the decorative arts are called terms. The body of many Atalantes turns into a rectangular pillar or other architectural feature around the waist level, a feature borrowed from the term. The pose and expression of Alalantes very often show their effort to bear the heavy load of the building, which is rarely the case with terms and caryatids. The herma or herm is a classical boundary marker or wayside monument to a god which is usually a square pillar with only a carved head on top, about life-size, and male genitals at the appropriate mid-point. Figures that are rightly called Atalantes may sometimes be described as herms.

Atlantes express extreme effort in their function, heads bent forward to support the weight of the structure above them across their shoulders, forearms often lifted to provide additional support, providing an architectural motif. Atlantes and caryatids were noted by the Roman late Republican architect Vitruvius, whose description of the structures, rather than surviving examples, transmitted the idea of atlantes to the Renaissance architectural vocabulary.


Bothros (Greek βόθρος, plural bothroi) is the Ancient Greek word for "hole", "pit" or "trench". In contemporary use it can refer to a variety of holes or depressions found at ancient sites and referred to in literature, and has also been utilized in biological taxonomy to describe species or structures that have similar characteristics.

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Claudio Fasoli

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Doric order

The Doric order was one of the three orders of ancient Greek and later Roman architecture; the other two canonical orders were the Ionic and the Corinthian. The Doric is most easily recognized by the simple circular capitals at the top of columns. Originating in the western Dorian region of Greece, it is the earliest and in its essence the simplest of the orders, though still with complex details in the entablature above.

The Greek Doric column was fluted or smooth-surfaced, and had no base, dropping straight into the stylobate or platform on which the temple or other building stood. The capital was a simple circular form, with some mouldings, under a square cushion that is very wide in early versions, but later more restrained. Above a plain architrave, the complexity comes in the frieze, where the two features originally unique to the Doric, the triglyph and guttae, are skeuomorphic memories of the beams and retaining pegs of the wooden constructions that preceded stone Doric temples. In stone they are purely ornamental.

The relatively uncommon Roman and Renaissance Doric retained these, and often introduced thin layers of moulding or further ornament, as well as often using plain columns. More often they used versions of the Tuscan order, elaborated for nationalistic reasons by Italian Renaissance writers, which is in effect a simplified Doric, with un-fluted columns and a simpler entablature with no triglyphs or guttae. The Doric order was much used in Greek Revival architecture from the 18th century onwards; often earlier Greek versions were used, with wider columns and no bases to them.

Since at least Vitruvius it has been customary for writers to associate the Doric with masculine virtues (the Ionic representing the feminine). It is also normally the cheapest of the orders to use. When the three orders are used one above the other, it is usual for the Doric to be at the bottom, with the Ionic and then the Corinthian above, and the Doric, as "strongest", is often used on the ground floor below another order in the storey above.

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Province of Agrigento

The Province of Agrigento (Italian: Provincia di Agrigento; Sicilian: Pruvincia di Girgenti; officially Libero consorzio comunale di Agrigento) is a province in the autonomous island region of Sicily in Italy, situated on its south-western coast. Following the suppression of the Sicilian provinces, it was replaced in 2015 by the Free municipal consortium of Agrigento. It has an area of 3,041.90 square kilometres (1,174.48 sq mi), and a total population of 474,493. There are 43 comunes (Italian: comuni) in the province.

Temple of Castor and Pollux

The Temple of Castor and Pollux (Italian: Tempio dei Dioscuri) is an ancient temple in the Roman Forum, Rome, central Italy. It was originally built in gratitude for victory at the Battle of Lake Regillus (495 BC). Castor and Pollux (Greek Polydeuces) were the Dioscuri, the "twins" of Gemini, the twin sons of Zeus (Jupiter) and Leda. Their cult came to Rome from Greece via Magna Graecia and the Greek culture of Southern Italy.The Roman temple is one of a number of known Dioscuri temples remaining from antiquity.

Temple of Concordia, Agrigento

The Temple of Concordia (Italian: Tempio della Concordia) is an ancient Greek temple in the Valle dei Templi (Valley of the Temples) in Agrigento (Greek: Akragas) on the south coast of Sicily, Italy. It is the largest and best-preserved Doric temple in Sicily and one of the best-preserved Greek temples in general, especially of the Doric order.

Temple of Hera Lacinia

The Temple of Hera Lacinia, or Juno Lacinia, otherwise known as Temple D, is a Greek temple in the Valle dei Templi, a section of the ancient city of Agrigentum (ancient Greek Akragas, modern Agrigento) in Sicily.

It was built in the middle of the fifth century BC, about the year 450 BC, and in period and in style belongs to the Archaic Doric period. Signs of a fire which followed the Siege of Akragas of 406 BC have been detected, and long after that the temple was restored at the time of the Roman province of Sicily, with the original terracotta roof being replaced by one of marble, with a more steeply inclined slope on the eastern side. The temple was originally dedicated to the Greek god Hera, Roman Juno. If still in use by the 4th-and 5th century, it would have been closed during the persecution of pagans in the late Roman Empire.

Temple of Heracles, Agrigento

The Temple of Heracles or Temple of Hercules (The Roman name of the hero) is a greek temple in the ancient city of Akragas, located in the Valle dei Templi in Agrigento.The building, in the archaic Doric style, is found on the hill of the temples, on a rocky spur near the Villa Aurea. The name Temple of Heracles is an attribution of modern scholarship, based on Cicero's mention of a temple dedicated to the hero non longe a foro "not far from the agora" (Verrine II 4.94), containing a famous statue of Heracles. That the agora of Akragas was in this area has not yet been demonstrated, but the identification is generally accepted.

Temple of Olympian Zeus, Agrigento

The Temple of Olympian Zeus (or Olympeion; known in Italian as the Tempio di Giove Olimpico) in Agrigento, Sicily was the largest Doric temple ever constructed, although it was never completed and now lies in ruins. It stands in the Valle dei Templi with a number of other major Greek temples.

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Archaeological sites in Sicily
Province of Agrigento
Province of Caltanissetta
Province of Catania
Province of Enna
Province of Messina
Province of Palermo
Province of Ragusa
Province of Syracuse
Province of Trapani


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