Saint Calogero - religious traditional fiest
San Gerlando is a patron of the city, nevertheless, the most popular and celebrated fiest in Agrigento belongs to San Calogero, which is very respected here by religious people. Religiousity is quite strong in SIcily, but in these days more among older people rather than young ones.
This celebration is really something to see. It's happening on the first and second Sunday of July. The procession starts at S.Calogero church. There are many ancient rituals. Older people told me that once it used to be the main celebration of all the town, when everybody used to dress up, to socialize, with horses dressed in colorful clothes (these are still present, but not as many as years and years ago), with offerings and wishes for healing.
Arigento, as well as Siracusa and many other towns were once part of Greece. Those were very rich colonies, and important as wheat production was highly intensive and Sicily itself was considered the main producing area in Mediterranean.
At the end, this fact resulted in a reason to be the centre of fights and wars, involving the young Roman Empire and the Phaenician centre on Northern Tunisia (Cartago). Sicily ended up as a part of the Roman Enpire (and it still is... ;))
Temple of Heracles
As for Temple of Heracles a colonnade of 8 columns is all what was left from the sanctuary. It is the earliest of the group in archaic Doric style built in about 500 BC.
Its 'cella' was in 2:5 proportion (12 m by 30 m); inner width or 'naos' was more than 11 m. The temple used to have typical stairs but not much is left there.
These columns were re-erected during first half of 20ieth century. Structure still feels impressive and strong - and somewhat dramatic when black and heavy night serves as the background - when I stoped there before return to the ticket was already quite late.
This it the first in the series of temples at Eastern site of the 'Valley'.
On the second photo: columns of Heracles are in the end of view over telamones. Quite far, but they rule the area. You need to enlarge photo to see it better.
The Valley of the Temples
"Temple of the Concordia"
The Valley of the Temples
It represents the greatest proof of the greek civilisation in Sicily. Among the countryside full of blooming almond trees, the eye meets the wonderful ruines of the temples that, in the course of the time, kept intact their architectonic magnificence.
Along a ridge, improperly called ‘valley’, and into a further southern area, several temples have been erected in the arch of a century (V b.C.) in order to witness the prosperity of the town.
In 406 b.C the Carthaginian people set them on fire, the Roman people restored them in I century b.C., respecting their original Doric style.
The collapse of the temples was caused maybe by sismic events or by the destroyer anger of the christians, supported by an edict issued by the Emperor Teodosio in IV century. The only one which is still untouched is the Temple of Concordia, turned into a church in the VI century. During the Medieval Age the building materials were stolen and then used to create other buildings. In particular, the Temple of Zeus Olimpio, commonly called Cava dei Giganti (Cave of Giants), provided materilas for the Church of Saint Nicola
All the buildings face eastward, in order to respect the classic principle (both greek and roman) which believes that the entrance to the cell which hosted the statue of the god should be lighted by the raising sun, source and beginning of life.
The temples have a doric style and are hexastyle ( ie., with 6 coloumns on the front side), except the temple of Zeus Olimpio, which had 7 semi-coloumns built in a wall enclosing the whole building. All the temples offer an amazing view at dawn and sunset above all, when they put on a warm golden colour.
The altar of the sacrifice - Just after the entrance, on the right, in a position slightly .backwards, you can see the ruines of a great altar, destined to the most important sacrifices. Up to 100 oxen could be sacrificed in one time.
The Paleochristian necropolis is situated right under the road and it is dug in the rock, not so far from the ancient walls of the town. Here different kinds of burial can be seen.
Looking southwards you can find Terone Grave, a magnificent tufaceous monument, dating back to roman domination, with a pyramide shape, built to honour the soldiers who died during the second punic war.
"Temple of Dioscuri"
"Temple of Giunone"
"Temple of Eracle"