Idée #739 – Visiting the Valley of the Temples of Agrigento in Sicily
Agrigento, known in antiquity as Ακράγας, was founded in 582 BC on a hill near the current site. Its first settlers came from the city of Gela, itself a Greek colony previously founded by men from Rhodes and Crete. The city grew rapidly and became particularly prosperous. In the 5th century, Pindar describes Agrigento as “The most beautiful of mortal cities”.
In 406 BC, the Carthaginians, led by Hannibal of Giscon, besieged and took Agrigento. They destroy the temple of Athena, massacre part of the inhabitants and bring down the ramparts of the city, with a ban on raising them. However, in 339 BC, the Carthaginians were defeated, and the city, under the orders of Timoléon, was rebuilt and put back into defence. During the First Punic War, Agrigento came under the control of the Romans in 262 BC then temporarily regained its independence, before being definitively taken back in 211 BC.
The archaeological area of Agrigento, the Valley of the Temples covers the vast territory of the ancient city, from the rock of Athena to the acropolis of the ancient city, the sacred hill on which the main Doric temples are located as well as the extramural necropolis. The site presents the ruins of the largest sanctuary of Olympian Zeus after the Artemision of Ephesus and the Didymeion of Miletus. Other temples dedicated to Heracles, Hera, the Dioscuri and Concordia are also visible. On the hill of Girgenti, the temple of Athena could be preserved thanks to its subsequent transformation into a Byzantine church. The site is on the UNESCO World Heritage List.
Where is it ?
Agrigente, Sicily, Italia