The Valley of the Temples


recommended visit time
5 hours

The Valley of the Temples of Agrigento is one of the largest archaeological sites in the world, located on a rocky ridge marking what was once the south side of the rich and flourishing city of Akragas. Declared a UNESCO World Heritage site in 1997 for its exceptional archaeological and landscape integrity, the Valley of the Temples is famous for its imposing Doric temples, considered among the most significant testimonies of Greek culture and art in the world. The millennium-long history of the Valley of the Temples begins around 582 BC with the foundation of Akragas by colonists from Gela and Rhodes. A city that reached its maximum splendor in the 5th century BC thanks to the tyrant Theron and the victory over the Carthaginians in the battle of Himera in 480 BC, which brought great wealth and a lot of manpower to ancient Agrigento.

In fact, in the period following the victory of Himera, almost all of the temples that we can still admire today were built. The glory of Akragas lasted for many decades, but in 406 BC the Carthaginians put the city to the sword, thus avenging the heavy defeat suffered at Himera. Akragas rose again by the hand of the Greek general Timoleon and lived through other decades of prosperity in the Hellenistic era, only to fall in 210 BC into the orbit of the Romans, assuming the name of Agrigentum.

Walking inside the Archaeological Park of Agrigento, you can admire the most solemn and well-preserved Doric temples in Sicily: the Temple of Juno, the Temple of Concordia, the Temple of Hercules, the Temple of Zeus, the Temple of the Dioscuri, and beyond the Kolymbetra Garden, the Temple of Vulcan. Marvelous testimonies of how ancient Akragas was one of the greatest and most powerful cities of Magna Graecia. Wandering through a dreamy natural landscape, discovering these archaeological beauties, you can experience the same amazement and sense of wonder that struck the ancient Grand Tour travelers who arrived here at the end of the 18th century to contemplate the enchanting vestiges of the Greek world.

The Temple of Juno is the temple that first catches the eye thanks to its elevated position. It was built around 450 BC and its attribution to Juno derives from a mistaken interpretation of a passage by the Roman writer Pliny the Elder, who actually referred to the Temple of Juno on the Lacinian promontory in Crotone. Therefore, as with most of the Agrigento temples, it is not possible to know with certainty to which deity this building was dedicated. The reddish traces on the walls of the cell and on some blocks suggest that the temple was set on fire during the Carthaginian conquest in 406 BC.

The Temple of Concordia is one of the three best-preserved Doric temples in the world. Its name is due to a Latin inscription from the mid-1st century AD with a dedication to the “Concord of the Agrigentines” found in the area and erroneously linked to the temple. The building has a four-step base, preserves all the columns, elements of the frieze, and the two pediments: a real wonder that has come down to us intact thanks to Bishop Gregorio who, in the 6th century, during the Byzantine domination, turned it into a Christian cathedral, saving it from damages reserved for pagan temples.

The Temple of Hercules, the oldest of the Agrigento temples, was reassembled in the 20th century thanks to the commendable work of archaeologist Pirro Marconi and the English patron Sir Alexander Hardcastle who committed to reassembling the blocks of the scattered columns in the area.

The Temple of Zeus, among the largest temples in the Greek world, preserves the remains of its imposing foundations and a monumental altar. About 27 meters high and as big as a modern football stadium, to give you an idea of how colossal this building was, there is a life-size cast (about 8 m) of a Telamon lying among the ruins: the original is displayed with all its majestic magnificence in the Regional Archaeological Museum “Pietro Griffo” of Agrigento whose fabulous exhibits, displayed in 18 rooms, illustrate the history of the Agrigento area from prehistory to the end of the Greco-Roman era: a journey through time in which the magnificent classical age vase collection, the formal perfection of the marble statuette of the Agrigento Ephebus, and the colossal grandeur of the tuff Telamon of the Temple of Zeus stand out. The Archaeological Museum is located 650 meters from the Valley of the Temples, in Contrada San Nicola, facing the Hellenistic-Roman Quarter: another site of great interest that shows, through the layered succession of dwellings, the transition from the Greek to the Roman age of the city.

Continuing the walk inside the Valley, passing the colossal remains of the Temple of Zeus, you arrive in the so-called area of the chthonic deities: an immense worship area where the four columns of the Temple of the Dioscuri stand out.

The Temple of the Dioscuri, dedicated to the mythical twins Castor and Pollux born from the union of Zeus and Leda, queen of Sparta, is the symbol of the city of Agrigento. Four columns support one corner of the frieze, the result of a nineteenth-century reassembly carried out with different blocks found in the same area. The Temple of the Dioscuri is flanked by suggestive altars where sacrifices were performed during the festivals dedicated to Demeter near the Kolymbethra ravine: a fabulous water basin where the aqueducts of the city ended in the classical age.

In fact, following the triumphant victory of the Battle of Himera in 480 BC, not only the construction of the Temples but also imposing public works were started, including a dense network of underground aqueducts to supply water to the settlement and a fabulous water basin to preserve it. The ancient “pool” of Akragas became in the following centuries a wonderful agricultural garden, rich in citrus trees, olive trees, and rare plants, and today, thanks to the work of the FAI Italian Environment Fund, the Garden of Kolymbethra is the green heart of the Valley of the Temples: one of the 10 most beautiful gardens in Italy. Some of the dense network of underground aqueducts that in the 5th century BC fed the city of Akragas, then flowing into the Kolymbethra, are still functioning inside the Garden and one of them is even visitable: the Hypogeum of Kolymbethra.

Crossing citrus groves and centuries-old olive trees from the garden, you can reach the last of the Doric temples built in the Valley of the Temples: the Temple of Vulcan.

The Temple of Vulcan owes its name to the interpretation of a Latin writer’s passage that mentions the religious ceremonies that took place near an “Agrigentine lake” not far from the Vulcan Hill (collis Vulcanius), so named perhaps for the presence of sulfurous water sources or natural bitumen outcrops. Of the Temple, there remain the layout of the interior spaces, part of the base, and two columns that present some influences of the Ionic order in a context of great charm.

Walking among the temples of the Valley of the Temples, you can observe the magnificence of ancient Greek civilization in a breathtaking natural setting, where the light of the evening twilight filters through the columns of the temples, creating almost magical atmospheres. It is a place to walk slowly, contemplating the vastness of the spaces and breathing history, mythology, and beauty.

Tourist Information
THIS information is subject to change without prior notice

The Archaeological Park can be accessed from the east entrance near the “Temple of Juno” or from the west entrance ” Porta V” (near to the ancient Greek gate).

Reservation and purchase of tickets through the Call center or on CoopCulture website is recommended.

Each one of the entrances has the following services: Parking, Ticket, Bus, Information.

From September 18th 2023 to June 30th 2024: open every day from 8:30 am to 8:00 pm (last entry to 7:00 pm).

Reservation and purchase of tickets through the Call center or on CoopCulture website is recommended.

Ticket to the Valley of the Temples: €12  per person. In occasion of exhibitions, the ticket price may undergo some variations.

Free entry for children, younger than 18 years old. 50% discount for EU citizens between 18 and 25 of age

Combo Tickets

Valley of the Temples + Archaeological Museum = € 16.80

Valley of the Temples + Garden of the Kolymbethra= € 18

Valley of the Temples: contacts for institutional information

Tel. +39 0922621611

Fax  +39 092226438

CoopCulture – Call center: contacts for reservations, tickets and information

tel. +39 09221839996

The coordinates below identify the arcosolia along the “sacred way”: go to the map and click on one of the Parking icons to calculate the route to the nearest entrance.

GPS
N 37° 17' 23.61''
E 13° 35' 33.47''

Google maps
37.28989, 13.59263

loading...