Agrigento (World Heritage)

The archaeological sites are among the most important sites in Sicily. According to payhelpcenter, the ancient Akragas was founded in 581 BC. Founded as a Greek colony and advanced to become one of the most important cities in the Mediterranean region. In the Valley of the Temples there are several excavation areas with the huge Temple of Jupiter and the Temple of Juno (Temple of Concord), which was used as a church in the Middle Ages.

Agrigento: facts

Official title: Agrigento archaeological sites
Cultural monument: Founded as Akragas and also known as Agrigento, on the Girgenti hill and on the Rupe Atenea; Valley of the temples with holy places like the temple of Juno, the “temple of harmony” and the “of the Olympian Jupiter”, the third largest temple of the antiquity, as well as the temples of Hercules, Aesculapius and of Castor and Pollux, Hellenistic-Roman quarter with the remains of houses along with mosaic floors
Continent: Europe
Country: Italy, Sicily
Location: Agrigento, south of Palermo
Appointment: 1997
Meaning: Founded as a Greek colony and one of the most important ancient cities in the Mediterranean region in the following years

Agrigento: history

581 BC Chr. founding
510-480 BC Chr. Construction of the “Temple of Olympian Jupiter” (Zeus)
500-430 BC Chr. Heyday
480-460 BC Chr. Construction of the temple of Demeter and Persephone
460-440 BC Chr. Construction of the Temple of Juno (Hera)
406 BC Chr. Destruction of the “Temple of Olympian Jupiter” by the Carthaginians
7th century AD Use of the “Temple of Unity” as a church
1086 Establishment of a diocese
1927 Renaming from Girgenti to Agrigento

Valley of the Temples

Already at the end of January the small almond trees sprout and put white-pink cotton balls in the mild midday air. Between the flowers you can see the shimmering silver Mediterranean in the south. The ancient ruins on the temple hill, embedded in a wide, green valley, complete the deceptive idyll. The temples of Agrigento, majestic remnants of a great civilization, also bear witness to the human tragedy in which nothing persists, neither splendor nor wealth or power.

From the mighty boulders behind the temple of Juno you have a wonderful view over the whole valley, just like 2500 years ago the bride and groom who got married under these sandstone capitals in front of the goddess who was called Hera by the Greeks. Today, however, there are busy roads running through the valley, and construction machinery was noisy on the hill opposite in the spring of 2000. With their help, black buildings were demolished after decades of conflict between nature conservationists and monument conservationists. This was preceded by years of successful nepotism, violation of the law and corruption in local government. It seems like a curse on this historic site: it has been fought for and desecrated since it existed, although – or perhaps precisely because – it seems heavenly. When the Greeks founded the colony Akragas, named after a daughter of Zeus, towards the end of the sixth century BC, the conditions seemed ideal: a safe landing stage on the nearby sea shore, behind it a piece of flat land with fertile soil, two rivers for irrigation and finally one steep, elongated hill that was easy to fortify. After the construction of a city wall more than twelve kilometers long, Akragas began to boom. The new trading metropolis in the center of the Mediterranean developed so rapidly that the population grew to a few hundred thousand within just a few decades. The extensive residential districts, which are still visible in their floor plans today, were created, the semicircle of the assembly of citizens’ representatives, i.e. the ancient city council, and the sports stadium. A gigantic temple complex was built for the time, which protrudes into that sky, which is always filled with white light and blue air. Under the tyrants, the sometimes cruel and sometimes wise rulers of the city, not only trade flourished, but also art and culture. Phalaris, for example, is said to have roasted his enemies in a bronze bull and delighted in their excruciating cries. Theron, on the other hand, increased the wealth of Akragas and extended his power to the city of Himera on the north coast of Sicily after his army had routed the Carthaginians there. “The most beautiful city of all mortals, haven of plenty, home of Persephone,” reports the poet Pindar enthusiastically. The Akragas-born philosopher and doctor Empedocles, on the other hand, writes with gloomy foreboding: “They build houses as if they had eternal life, while enjoying their luxury as if they were going to die tomorrow.” The houses were burned down, the residents died or fled, when the Carthaginians conquered the city at the beginning of the fifth century BC. Then the Romans invaded the city, then again the Carthaginians and finally the Romans again: a series of destruction, reconstruction and destruction. The Valley of the Temples experienced the rule of Byzantium, that of the Arabs and finally the Normans – as if the city, which was later called Agrigentum, then Grigenti and is now called Agrigento, had less than two hundred “golden years” after its foundation with over 2000 -year desecration. The most recent invasion was that of the Mafia, who over the past three decades wanted to turn the valley, which is unique in the world, into a residential area for the wealthy. But it seems that with the demolition of the black buildings for the first time, the fate of this seemingly idyllic place is changing for the better. From 2005 to 2007, numerous temples were extensively restored with EU funding.

Agrigento (World Heritage)