It is one of the best preserved Doric temples of the ancient Greek world, with the Temple of Hera and Paestum (Posidonion) and the Athenian Theseion. Its perfect state of conservation is due to the fact that it has continued to be used in the course of time in 597 AD. I had felling that I was in Athens. It is amazing how it is in very good shape.
The name of the temple is due to confusion with the temple Hera at Crotone. Hera was the dauther of Kronos and Rhea, sister and wife of Zeus and mother of all the Olympian gods. The temple is in Doric style to and it is located on a one of the most beautiful panoramic site.
The Temple of Concord is the most complete of all the temples. It is constructed of sandstone and may have been covered in stucco originally. If you look closely you can see repairs which likely replaced missing portions and probably look similar to the stucco. As the sun sets the sandstone takes on a magical glow well worth the wait.
This interesting recumbent statue and the majestic ruins of the temple are dedicated to Olympian Zeus. If you want to pictures this figure the best way is to climb on some stone near. In fact hole area is full of ruins and the stones.
From Agrigento city centre, the valley below looks interesting with its temples, notably the Concordia which is easy to make out. Finally walking towards the Concordia, "interesting" is no longer the word you would use. The temple is huge and in such a good shape it is unbelieavable. To then be able to walk on to the Juno temple and then back to the Hercules one (which is open to stand in and has suffered more) and the ruins of the Jupiter one on the other side of the main road is just mindblowing. Especially when you then read in your guide book (there are lots to purchase at the parking lot where the bus stops) that old Agrigento was once as big as somewhere between 200-800 000 inhabitants! At least the size of Malmö where I live - absolutely mind blowing. Concordia was once used as a church when Sicily was christianised and this area really must have seen it all and if you want to see Greek temples which are more impressive than in Greece - this is the place! If you are lucky, you arrive along with a coach party from somewhere. These always have guides from the local museum so just tag along and learn a lot from these amusing and informed guys.
It became a UNESCO world heritage site a few years ago and that was probably a good idea since it seems illegal building takes place nearby and could have crept even closer. This way it should at least have some protection due to its fame.
We visited fairly late in the afternoon which gave the temples this lovely golden glow - see more in my travelogue :-)
Getting to the "duomo" is a tiresome but fascinating affair. You have to climb some stairs, turn a corner, then more stairs, turn a corner and more stairs, and so on for a good while, leaving you exhausted once you reach the top of the hill, but also feeling good that you made it. The ascent is via some of the poorer quarters of Agrigento and you walk up these stairs amongst scooters parked in the most amazing way, old ladies studying you, stray cats and playing children, feeling almost like an intruder. But they've seen it all before and it is certainly the poorest area I have ever walked in and yet felt completely safe. You are rewarded with views like the one on my intro page on the way up but I have to say that I felt "is this it" once I got there. It is not Sicily's most beautiful or biggest cathedral by any means even if that's not what I expected either. Nevertheless, it is worth seeing, and whilst you are up there, take time to see the rolling countryside from its main steps (picture).
Agrigentum (Acragas) is placed in a position easy to defend – and south of what is nowsadays modern city of Agrigento - that is along the ridge rather than in 'valley' and is boundned east and west by two watercourses (named Hypsas and Acragas). Temples from 5th century BC are Doric, all except Temple of Zeus were hexastyle format (6 columns at the front; Zeus had 7 columns), built of limestone tufa which is more vulnerable to weather conditions and changes than marble.
West to east distribution of sanctuaries is:
Temple of Hephaestus
Temple of Castor and Pollux
Temple of Zeus or Olympieion
Temple of Heracles
Temple of Hera Lacinia
According to Classic criterion all the buildings face east.
Fee includes entry to entire historic area which is split in two by the main road. Site (east) with Temple of Heracles, Concord and Hera Lacinia is larger and temples are better preserved so probably you will spend more time exploring if you're on your own; but the oldest are Castor and Pollux (symbol of Agrigento) and what is left from Olympieion- trully remarkable ruins.
When we visited east site it was right before it got dark – and it was windy, cold and rainy evening with those beautiful dark and heavy clouds which set more than perfect background for watching ancient architecture. It is at those moments when you're there almost entirely alone in front of a Temple when you feel ancient energy of the sacred place. You're enchanted – and perhaps those minutes you feel like being old Greek yourself.
On next morning we did the west site.
Fee: 8 EUR
Opening time: 9 am – 7 pm
The name derives from a Latin inscription “Concordia Agrigentinorum” found in the vicinity of the sanctuary, which however is completely unrelated to the temple. It has been suggested that the temple was dedicated to the cult of the Dioscuri; Castor and Pollux, a twin cult which was perpetuated with Bishop Gregorio turned the temple into a Christian basilica and dedicated it to Saints Peter and Paul. It is one of the most fully complete temples in the Greek world.
The temple is built in peripteral style, with 6 x 13 columns, the technical precision and the unitary module regulating the entire construction enable it to achieve the same balanced relationship as the temples in the motherland.
The Museum (Museo Archeologico Regionale), established in the monumental area of the bouleuterion and ekklesiasterion, on the hillock of San Nicola, and incorporating part of the convent adjoining the church of the same name, is one of the foremost archaeological museums in Sicily. The material is arranged chronologically and divided into two main sectors, once concerning Agrigento and its territory and the other concerning part of the archaeological sites of the provinces of Caltanissetta and Gela, which have their own museums.
Really a part of the Temple Valley but separated from the Greek temples by a kilometre or so. Here you will find exhibits from the diggings in Agrigento. On the other side of the road is the archaeological and you can buy a combined entrance ticket for it all (but then arrive early enough to see both sites).
This is too dark a picture of a detail in the Jupiter temple which can be seen in original in the museum.
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.
Situated on the most easterly point of the Hill of Temples. It was not, however, dedicated to Juno. The name given to it erroneously by tradition is the result of confusion with the Temple of Hera on the Lacinian promontory of Crotone. These spectacular ruins still bare the traces of the fire set by the Carthaginians in 406 BC.
The idea of such a museum dates back to 1864, when the scholar Giuseppe Picone started a collection of archaeological material from the various necropolises of the area, originally housed in the Town Hall. From 1924, new pieces were added, thanks to the excavation campaigns carried out in that period, while 1939 marks a turning point with the establishment of the Superintendency for the Antiquities of the Provinces of Agrigento and Caltanissetta. The building currently housing the museum was completed in 1960; it is located on the Southern side of Saint Nicolas hillock, where the upper agorà once stood. The museum adjoins the Gothic church of Saint Nicholas and also includes the cloister and refectory of the old Cistercian monastery.
Little blaconies with clothes haning over narrow streets of low buildings, doors with arches..
Agrigento was founded in 581 A.C. under the name of Akragas, later on dominated by many different nations, from Greeks to Romans, and Arabs.
This was the first temple built in the valley at Agrigento. The construction of this temple was completed during the later part of the 6th century BC. It was originally built with 38 columns, but today only 8 remain standing. The temple was dedicated to the legendary Hercules, who is the national hero of Sicily and in particular the city of Agrigento.