archeological site of Agrigento
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a Greek colony in the 6th century B.C. by colonists from nearby
Gela and from Rodhes, the old Akragas became one of the leading
cities in the Mediterranean world.
supremacy and pride are demonstrated by the remains of the
magnificent Doric temples that dominate the ancient town, much
of which still lies intact.
Archeological areas throw light on the later Hellenistic and
Roman town and the burial practices of its early Christian
with a potent wall, the city was formed partially by a higher
edge on which stood the acropolis. The southern limit of the
ancient city was a second lower edge, and it was here, in the
so-called ?Valle dei tempi" (Valley of the Temples), that
the city architects erected their sacred buildings during the 5th
The Valley of temple was set
ablaze by the Carthaginians in 406 B.C. and restored by the
Romans (1C BC) respecting their original Doric style.
The Valley is plenty of ruins of numerous
temples, a necropolis, and then houses, streets and everything
else one would expect to find in an ancient city.
All the buildings face east thus respecting the Greek and Roman
criteria where the entrance (Holy of Holies), plenty of
statues of the Gods, is illuminated by the rays of the rising
sun (the source and blood of life) providing a particularly
impressive sight at dawn while at sunset they turn to a warm
shade of gold.
whole, the temple built of limestone tufa, have a hex style
format (that is with six columns at the front), the exception
being the Temple of Zeus.
instance, the Temple of Zeus, instead of the usual open
colonnade, is bordered by a wall sealing off the spaces between
the columns which, inside, become seven engaged columns.
destroyed, the temple was re-erected following the victory of
the people of Agrigentum over the Carthaginians at Himera (in
about 480 BC).
considered one of the largest temples built in ancient times
ever known, being 113 metres long and 36 metres wide, but it is
thought never to have been completed.
reproduction is displayed in the middle of the temple, giving
some idea of the proportional scale of the vast building.
ground of the temple, facing the sky, lies an 8
a supporting column sculpted as a male figure, with his arms
raised, bent to bear the temple's weight.
The term of
Telamone, from the Latin, alludes to the mythological figure
Atlas, the giant and leader of the Titans who struggled against
the gods of Olympus and was condemned by Zeus to support the
weight of the sky on his head. When the earth was discovered to
be spherical, he was often shown bearing the terrestrial globe
on his shoulders.
of Akragas's temples, is the Tempio di Ercole (Hercules),
which was probably built in the last decades of the 6th
century BC. Today, 8 of the original 38 columns have been
re-erected with all the others spotted around like a waiting
From the temple, looking south, can be seen what is called the
Tomb of Theron, erroneously believed to have been the
tomb of the tyrant Theron, it was erected in honour of the
soldiers killed during the Second Punic War.
Not distant from the first temple is the glorious Temple of
Concord dated to around 430 BC. It is considered one of the
best preserved temples of ancient time. Beautifully sited, it
offers fine views to the city and the sea.
The reason it has survived intact is due to its transformation
into a church in the 6C AD. It?s not known however to which God
it was dedicated being the name of Concord from a Latin
inscription found in the vicinity. The temple gives a mixture of
optical illusion: the columns become narrower at the top to
appear taller and have an entasis, a slight convex curve at
about two-thirds of the height giving the illusion of concavity.
This allows the observer standing at a certain distance from the
temple to see a perfectly straight image.
Following the line of the ancient city walls stands the
Temple of Giunone (or Hera Lacina), an engaging half-ruin
standing at the very edge of the ridge.
Other remains are scattered in the area including the so-called
Temple of Dioscuri (Castor and Pollux),
rebuilt in 1832.
An excellent National archeological Museum rich in
finds from the city and the surrounding area. Best displays are
vases of 6th to 3rd century BC, and a
reassembled Telamone stacked against one wall. On the way out
for the Hellenistic-Roman area there are lines of houses,
inhabited intermittently until the 5th century AD,
many with well preserved mosaic designs.
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