Hercules (or Heracles) is surely the most loved hero of Greek mythology. Endowed with godlike strength, his “Twelve Labours” are a fascinating cultural topic which helped to define the Greek identity, as the Greek population strongly identified with his lust for power. The Greeks also loved to stress their favourite hero’s links with the territories he crossed and Sicily was no exception: infact, it was told that Hercules, on his way home after his tenth exploit “The Cattle of Geryon“ travelled far and wide over the Isle of Sicily. One of the Temples of the Valley is dedicated to the strong son of Zeus. As can be deduced from its stout forms, the Temple of Heracles is the oldest temple in the valley; it was erected half a century before the other temples. The location of this imposing temple right next to Gate IV (Golden Gate) emphasises the symbolic importance of this temple for the protection of the city.
According to Cicero, the bronze statue of Heracles worshipped by the population had highly polished lips and chin due to the kisses and caresses of the devotees. Unfortunately the statue was stolen by the Roman governor Verre. Of the nine columns still standing today, eight have been reconstructed in 1923 by the ex English captain Sir Alexander Hardcastle.This amateur archaeologist and patron of the Valley of the Temples was so enchanted by the archaeological beauty of Agrigento that he decided to move there, spending his entire fortune on excavations and archaeological reconstruction works. He dwelled in the 19th century Villa Aurea, near to the Temple of Heracles, now venue of exhibitions and cultural events.
Just beyond the garden of Villa Aurea there is a portion of the medieval necropolis of the city, partly hewn out of underground water cisterns dating back to the Graeco-Roman period. In fact, in the early Christian era the southern part of the Valley of the Temples was occupied by an extensive necropolis and the grotto of Fragapane is one of the most extensive and important catacombs found in Sicily. A well laid-out itinerary illustrating these Christian-Byzantine sepulchres starts at Casa Pace, near to the Temple of Concord: the tombs and burial chambers dating back to the 4th and 5th century AD demonstrate the importance of the Christian community and the Diocese of Agrigento. Just below the Temple of Heracles there is the so-called “Tomb of Theron”, a Roman mausoleum of the 1st century BC, incorrectly attributed to the Tyrant of Akragas.
The Archaeological Park has three entrances: one to the Nord “ Teatro Ellenistico” (near to the Ancient Theatre and Archaeological Museum), one the East ” Giunone” (near to the Temple of Juno) and one to the West ” Porta V” (near to the ancient Greek gate).
Each one of the entrances to the Valley of the Temples offer this services: Parking, Tickets, Bus, Information.
Visiting some areas on the outskirts of the Valley of the Temples may subject to the presence of custodians.
Open daily all year round 8.30 a.m. – 7.00 p.m.
Evening visits only during the summer:
from Monday to Friday
entry between 7.00 p.m. – 10.00 p.m. and exit by 11.00 p.m.;
on Saturdays, Sundays and public holidays
entry 7.30 p.m. – 11.00 p.m. and exit by midnight.
Ticket to the Valley of the Temples: €10 per person.
Free entry for children, younger than 18 years old. 50% discount for EU citizens between 18 and 25 of age
Valley of the Temples + Archaeological Museum = € 13.50
Valley of the Temples + Garden of the Kolymbethra= € 15.00
Valley of the Temples: contacts for institutional information
Tel. +39 0922621611
Fax +39 092226438
Coop Culture – Ticket Office “Giunone” : contacts for ticket and information
tel. +39 09221839996
The following coordinates indicate the point of interest
N 37° 17' 24.83''
E 13° 35' 12.99''