Situated at the extreme south of Agrigento, in the southern part of Sicily, the Valley of the Temples is
one of the most representative sites of classical Greek civilisation, and has been recognised as a
Heritage Site by UNESCO since 1998.
The buildings were constructed in the fifth century to manifest the prosperity of the ancient city of
Akragas, and their remains stand on the rocky ledge bordering to the south the plateau on which the city
stood. Moving from east to west we find the temple of Hera Lacinia - Juno
(where the Greeks used to celebrate
weddings), the Temple of Concordia (which alone has remained intact),
and those of Hercules, of Olympian
Jupiter, of Castor and Pollux
(the legendary twins born of the union between the Queen of Sparta and Jupiter,
the temple which is now the symbol of the city of Agrigento), and of Vulcan.
Lower down, close to the river and outside the ancient walls of the city, stands the
Temple of Aesculapius, the god of medicine (the walls
were covered with the writings of the sick who had been cured) and, close to the Porta Aurea, the imposing
Tomb of Theron, erected in memory of the victims of the Second Punic
War. Among the other buildings are the Palaeochristian Necropolis,
the Antiquarium of Agrigento Paleocristiana and the
Antiquarium Iconografico della Collina dei Templi.
All the temples, of the Doric order and hexastyle (that is with six columns at the front) are built facing
east. Effectively, according to the classical Greek and Roman canons, the entrance to the cella housing
the statue of the deity had to be illuminated by the rising sun, the fount and principle of life.
Built of calcareous tuff, the temples offer a particularly evocative sight at dawn and even more at sunset,
when they assume a warm gilded hue.